Holiday Memory: Traditions – Gotta Love 'Em

by Barb Van Meter

I have two real holiday traditions and they are very special to me. One makes me a little crazy and my kids very happy. The other makes my kids a little crazy and me very happy.

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Barb’s children and their oversized stockings.

The first tradition goes all the way back to my own childhood. My mom has always been an amazing seamstress and she made a ton of things when my siblings and I were younger, including dresses, tablecloths, napkins, and stockings for me and my five siblings!

When I was about eight, my aunt asked my mom to make a huge oversized stocking for my two cousins.

Now, I know you should love your cousins and be grateful for what Santa brings you, but I was SUPER jealous of those great big stockings and all the goodies they got for Christmas.

I was too young to understand that Santa has a budget for every family and that sometimes six children may not be able to get as many gifts as two.

As I got older, it began to make sense and I eventually forgave my mom for not making me an extra big stocking – but I never forgot!

When I was pregnant with my first child, I told my mom, “You will make that stocking for me!”  I even called my aunt to tell her of my triumph.  She said, “Barbie, don’t do it. Poor Santa has to put socks, shampoo and pajamas in it every year just to make it full, and sometimes Santa gets really tired trying to find a way to fill it.” I couldn’t have cared less.

Two years later, I had my second child and told my mom, “You better make me another one!”

After a few years, I began to understand my aunt’s words.

Several years later, I met my husband, who already had two children of his own.  Of course, I demanded that my mom to make two more stockings for them.

Poor Santa. Nowadays he starts shopping in January, trying to find items to fill those great big stockings.  He’s become a great bargain shopper.

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The beginning of the photo with Santa tradition.

When my son went off to college, I thought, ‘One less stocking!’ No such luck. He comes home each Christmas, curious to see what Santa brought him.  And when my daughter left for college she literally said, “Mom, Santa better still fill that stocking this year!” (Like mother, like daughter, huh?)

It’s a piece of their childhood that I know they love, and though it makes me a little crazy, the giant stockings are still hanging and getting filled each year.

My second tradition is one that we all love, but it is definitely all about mommy!

One day, every year around Christmas, we dress up, bundle up and head to downtown Seattle.  We have the day down to a science at this point.

The photo with Santa is done first thing, to avoid long lines and messed-up hair. We always say hi to Santa’s number one helper, Rudolph while there, too. (In case you’re wondering what I do with the photos, they are framed in sets of three and displayed each December. Each child also gets their own copy of the photo, to take the Christmas memories with them. I have seven full sets and am currently working on an eighth!)

Then it’s off to the Sheraton to take a peek at the gigantic gingerbread houses that are featured every year.  (Spectacular!)

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The tradition continues!

Next is Westlake Mall.  We wander around and work our way over to the top floor, hop on the monorail and head over to Seattle Center. We love the train display and carolers. Sometimes we break down and go ice-skating!

When we get back to Westlake, we always ride the carousel and end the day with a treat from someplace new.

It’s such a special time. Though the kids sometimes tell me, “Again? I’m too old,” I know, deep down, they love it, too!

(How do I get a 20 and 22 year old to continue taking Santa photos, you ask? I tell them, “If you don’t take a picture with Santa, he’ll probably just put coal in your giant stocking…all the way to the tippy-top!”)

 Barb Van Meter is a Staffing Manager in TERRA’s Tacoma Branch.

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