As we get ready to celebrate Christmas, I started to reflect (I do that a lot lately) on Christmas when I was a kid. I remember always putting up the Christmas tree a few days before Christmas (we would always go and cut down a real tree), we never ever had an artificial tree growing up. We would get to stay up until maybe 9pm on Christmas Eve, and then it was off to bed so that Santa could come. It always amazed me that when we woke up in the morning there were presents stacked half way up the tree (how my parents did that is still a mystery to me) as we do have a huge family, eleven of us kids. On the kitchen table, there was always a plate with each kids name on in filled with candy, mixed nuts and always an apple and an orange. Us kids would always be awake before dawn, and try to get my dad out of bed to let us open gifts, we never started opening gifts until the entire family was there and ready. My mom (mostly my mom - us girls helped too) would put on a meal that still makes my mouth water.  Either ham or turkey, salads, veggies, pies and cake. There was food for 50 people and it was amazing.  We usually had a green jello salad (only for holidays) my dad called it garbage salad my sister Julie still makes it for our holiday gatherings, and it's still as good as it was 40 plus years ago. Since getting married and having children of my own we have developed a few traditions of our own. We toast with a glass of wine on Christmas morning, the kids get to open one gift on Christmas Eve and I still don't fill their stockings until they are in bed on Christmas Eve and leave them under the tree with gifts. What ever you and your family do to celebrate, I hope that you have a Merry Christmas and that your home is filled with love and joy.

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