10- Christmas 1999. I had met Chad in September (my freshman year in college). A short 2 1/2 months later, I bugged him every day "What did you get me for Christmas?" "Can I open it now?" I thought I was getting this beautiful emerald bracelet I had been wanting. Well Chad always said "No, you need to wait for Christmas!" So on December 22nd he made me a special dinner, his folks had vacated the house, and he asked "Do you want your Christmas gift now?" Thinking I would say "YES!" But instead I said "Nah...it's the 22nd, I can wait three more days" Chad went into a panic. He actually got up and left the room, mentioning "uhh...bathroom....be right back." He came back with sheer determination and proclaimed: " Tough, you're getting it now!!!" He got down on one knee and proposed. I was absolutely shocked! Of course I said yes. And we lived happily ever after ;0)
9- Fast forward 2 years. Our first Christmas together as husband and wife. We opened gifts by the fireplace in our tiny, overpriced, one bedroom apartment. It was precious!
8- Christmas 1988. A freeze swept through central Florida and knocked out power all over the city. My family couldn't cook Christmas dinner, so we ended up going out to eat at some random buffet. But I’ll never forget opening gifts by candlelight that year.
7- The year I got a giant stuffed Panda and a bicycle. It was a GREAT year to be 11!
6- Singing in the Candle Light choir all through high school. A massive choir sings while a celebrity narrates the Christmas story. The best year was when James Earl Jones narrated. The worst year was when a former Miss America did it. Let’s just say reading was not her gift. As an adult Chad and I have been to see the production, one year we saw Marlee Matlin sign the narration. It was incredible to watch the emotion she put into the story with her hands. If you are ever in the parks at Christmastime it is a must see!
5- The year my mom was pregnant with my sister. She was on bed rest so we ended up eating ham sandwiches and potato chips for Christmas dinner because she couldn't be on her feet to cook. I was so excited to be a big sister I would have eaten anything and been just as happy.
4- Seeing the Christmas Hot dog at our church. The special ed department practices their Christmas production the Saturday before their play (and we eat hot dogs, thus the name) and SANTA comes to visit! Santa is a celebrity with these precious people with childlike faith. One year Chad got to play Santa and that was something I'll never forget.
3- Return to Bethlehem. Our church transforms our parking lots into Bethlehem village with a 500 person cast. Thousands of people from the community drive through the city from King Herod's courts to the manger at the end of the scene. I have played the ANGEL (you know the one that has to hold her hands up in the air LOUDLY proclaiming that Christ has been born, can you say "ouch" by the end of the night? The Inn-Keeper's wife turning away pregnant Mary away over and over and over. The last two years I have been pregnant Mary with the Donkey making her way downtown. Walking in the (a-freezing cold. b-driving rain or c-high wind) with a pillow stuffed under your smock trailing a pooping Donkey is a strange way to celebrate Christmas, but for some reason, it's a pretty neat site.
2- Twice when I was in high school we had two college exchange students from China with us over the Holidays. They marveled at all of our traditions and cried when we gave them gifts. It's always interesting getting an entirely different perspective on our traditions.
1-We spent Christmas 2007 on a cruise ship with my sister, my parents, and Chad's mom and step-dad. It was odd having balmy temperatures and sunbathing on Christmas day in the Dominican Republic. If I had a ton of money I would go on a cruise every year during winter (but not necessarily on Christmas day). It was great making a jump from all the ice and snow to the blue waters of the Caribbean. That was one tradition I could definitely get use to!