Merry Christmas, everybody! My name is Mallory Morganelli-Munoz, I am 32 and born in Anaheim California, but I did most of my growing up in Prescott Arizona. I am thrilled to get to write about Christmas, and share all about my traditions. This may be lengthy, but I assure you, it’s going to be joyful!
There’s just something about Christmas that sets it apart from all other holidays. The cheer and jubilation that unfolds across the universe during the month of December is truly undeniable. Maybe that’s why we start playing Christmas music and putting up decorations earlier and earlier each year. We all want more of that spirit in our lives.
In my household growing up, my dad was adamant… “No Christmas until after Thanksgiving!” But make no mistake, the morning after Thanksgiving, we were waking up to the sounds of Spike Jones’s Christmas album, accompanied by dad’s cheery whistling and festive songs. Every year, we spent the entire Friday after Thanksgiving decorating for Christmas… decking the halls, if you will. We’d unload boxes and boxes… and more boxes of decorations, then we’d go to pick out our real tree, come back and sip on mom’s homemade hot apple cider while putting our personal ornaments up, with the hum of Bing Crosby in the background; we truly embraced each tender moment together as a family. There was also something particularly special about hanging our stockings, knowing Santa would have his magical hands on them, filling them with our favorite treats and gizmos.
Now, speaking of the all-mighty Santa, my parents really knocked it out of the park. They would talk to us about him all the time, truly filling our souls with wonder and joy like we were living in Whoville! Obviously they took us to see the plump, bearded old man every year, and it was nerve-wracking at first… I mean, we were meeting a celebrity! But, our anxious little voices would turn into excitement, even eagerness, as this would become another Christmas tradition we anticipated as soon as we had the last bite of our Thanksgiving dinner.
Speaking of traditions, as would make sense, they were the same every year. On Christmas Eve, we would gather with my dad’s side of the family for a huge Italian feast; with a multitude of fish, slow cooked pork, beef, and chicken, which would always be in the Italian “gravy” a.k.a. marinara sauce; we had pasta and our family’s famous fresh-made bread rolls, batela! That was my large side of the family – my dad has three sisters, all of whom had multiple children so me and my siblings were never bored.
Rolling into Christmas morning… my parents were always awake before us, sitting in the living room with their hot cocoa and cider, probably running on two hours of sleep, or maybe even none – I mean, truly saints. There would always be an elaborate gift in the middle of the room that my dad would point to, raising his voice a few octaves to shout, “look what Santa brought you guys!” I vividly remember the jungle gym one year – we couldn’t get enough of it, which was great, as Christmas day would always be a bit more quiet as my mom’s side of the family is smaller – she has two siblings – neither had kids.
I was nine when I learned of THE secret. If memory serves, I walked into my parents’ room while they were organizing Santa presents… needless to say, I had a lot of questions. They must’ve taken a deep breath and exchanged a nod, which said, ‘okay, now’s the time.’ They told me Santa was invented for children, and that they chose to carry out his traditions for their kids as it brought us (and them) so much joy. I wouldn’t share this news with my siblings, and in that moment, I don’t even think I accepted this new reality – in a way, I think I went on believing Santa, and will do so forever.
As I came into adulthood, and left the nest, I was determined to keep the Christmas traditions alive! I remember my first Christmas in my new place, I managed to squeeze a huge, and real, Christmas tree in my living room; it must’ve consumed about half of the apartment. I bought a bunch of decorations from the dollar store and essentially threw up Christmas all over the cramped space. I loved every second of it. And that spirit carried all the way over into marriage and starting my own family with my husband. I have two little kiddos that I get to share all of my traditions and spirit with; it’s truly a gift! I love seeing my littles light up as we tell them Christmas is almost here! I love watching them write letters to Santa and witnessing their coy behavior as they wait in line to meet THE MAN… recalling early memories of my heart pounding as I walked to sit on his lap. I also really love taking them to my parents’ house, so they can experience all of the warmth and adoration I did as a child.
On Christmas morning, like my parents, we also wait for them on the couch, holding our hot cocoa; my heart grows a bit bigger when I hear their footsteps running towards the living room and watch their cheeks blush as they look at the wrapped boxes under the tree. But, I think what I appreciate most is that I get to share the true meaning of Christmas with them – that love is the most important thing – the thing we should hold most dear, not only through the month of December, but always.
I understand not all of us have joyful memories or traditions like mine, but that doesn’t mean Christmas can’t be special for everyone. Christmas is special because Jesus was born. The savior of the world was gifted to all of us on the very first Christmas, and there’s something about that that brings peace and harmony to all this time of year. I am blessed to know that, cherish that, share that with my children and all of you reading!
Don’t forget that this year and every year to come. And with that, a Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Committed To Curiosity