I remember so much about getting ready for Christmas as a kid. It was easily my favorite time of the year.
My parents would pull these big brown barrels and totes out of the crawlspace. Each one was full of Christmas decorations, ornaments, lights, you name it. And it all had a special, Christmas-y smell to it.
Some of my favorite things to unpack were the snow globes. We had about six of them. My favorite was one that played Silent Night. It had glittery/ shimmery fairy dust that was supposed to be snow. It had a light wooden base and smelled like coconut. Another one was an actual box that was pretty red and green with santa designs all over it. You opened the box and santa popped up, like a jack-in-the-box. This one was my brother’s favorite. We set them up throughout the house and would go around shaking them and winding them up so they would all play music at the same time. We were so cool.
We always had a fake Christmas tree for the most part (until we realized real trees were a thing!). The tree we had was pre-lit and had character! One set of the lights would blink after they got warmed up, but only that one section of the tree. This was my favorite part of the tree. My mom usually put that part against the wall, and it would make the wall blink.
My Grandpa once gifted each family with a set of lights (from Service Merchandise at the time, I think), and to me, they were the BEST lights. They were indoor lights, and the same ones that he had decorating the interior of his house. These fancy lights had little control box that allowed for SIX settings. You could make them twinkle, chase, leave them on solid colors, or, my personal favorite, FADE in and out. This was easily the coolest setting.
The exterior lights were also a big favorite of mine. I would lay awake in bed and leave my blinds open so I could see my neighbors’ lights on across the street. My dad would put the old school large bulb multi-color lights on the house and on our Christmas tree in the front of the house. That was until, of course, the icicle lights became the fad. We would decorate our big picture window with gold lights on the interior, and my mom had these cling decorative art things (before they were crazy popular). They weren’t gel clings like you see now, but just flat plastic pieces that you would spread out on the window to create the tree and ornaments.
We also had a Lionel passenger train that we set up at the bottom of the Christmas tree each year. It had a control box and you could make it go as fast as you’d want, but then it would consistently derail. When the train was on the tracks and running, the passenger cars had lights that would go on and you could see the outline of people sitting on the train. My favorite part. Sadly, I think this train is probably in my parents’ crawlspace. I told my mom to get cracking this weekend. We are almost ready to move into our new house, and now is the time for her to purge the decorations that she might not want. I want to make Christmas just as magical for my kids.
One of he other best parts of Christmas was FREE CABLE. Well, it wasn’t free, but there was always a holiday deal that offered free installation and start up I think. So we never had cable during the year, but when Christmas came, my parents would order it only for the months of December and January, until the deal was up. Every year, we would get so excited when that pretty little cable box would appear on top of our giant Zenith TV. Our favorite channel was Nickelodeon. Are You Afraid of the Dark, Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy, Clarissa Explains it All, Doug, What Would You Do, Salute Your Shorts, and my all-time favorite, HEY DUDE!…. And then they had Nick at Nite, which also played some of my faves, like I Love Lucy, The Wonder Years, Mary Tyler Moore, and Bewitched! I remember in the mornings getting ready for school, I would also put on VH1 in the mornings. I think it was called JumpStart? And I remember clearly the videos for Natalie Merchant’s “Carnival” on most mornings. Also, Janet Jackson’s “Runaway”! So it must have been 1995 – so would have been 5th/ 6th grade time frame. CRAZY. But I remember it so well. My kids will probably never know the struggle of not being able to watch exactly what they want without commercials, let alone not having the luxury of cable and having to watch 2, 5, 7, and 9, etc.
Love love love the Christmas season!