The tradition in my family has always been to open presents on Christmas Eve night. When we were kids, DoodCuz, DrCuz, Kat and I, we quickly ate our light supper, hot dogs usually, then sat in front of the TV in the den until the grownups decided that it was “time”. Many times, we’d hold the present with our name on it that most intrigued us, loving it before we even knew what it was. I remember reading the words “Head to Toe” through the paper on a present, and I went crazy trying to imagine what it could be. That was 1971. You couldn’t just type “Head to Toe” in a search engine, you had to sit there and wonder.
Most years we were able to successfully beg to one just one present Christmas Eve Eve. “Head to Toe” ended up being a Dawn doll with three wigs, short to long, hence head to toe. Dawn was a tiny Barbie-ish doll.
After presents had been exchanged, we played with our new toys for a bit, the grownups would gather round the table and play cards or a board game. Once 9:00 came we four kids piled up in Auntie Virg and UncaHoney’s king size bed. The adults continued their games, enjoyed a few cocktails and waited for Santa.
After Santa had arrived, we were woken out of hard achieved slumber to see what Santa Claus had left. It would be like 4am. We’d run out to the den and find our individual stack of loot. The adults stayed up, made sure we saw all the stuff, including stockings, and at some point slipped away to bed without our notice. When the sun peeked into the windows, with her rosy pink glow, we sacked out on the couch, or floor, our new favorite toy sleeping beside us.
Later, we would awake to Dot, Auntie Virg and Mama Lou in the kitchen, our Christmas meal prepared as if our late grandfather were supervising. Everything his recipe and the manner in which he would have made it. My mother worked to peel oranges slices, riding them of their filmy skin. Next she would chop pecan finely, pecans from Auntie Virg’s pecan orchard that conveniently came with the house. Auntie Virg was bravely chopping peppers and onions and cabbage for the hot slaw. Mama Lou attached pineapple slices to a Ham, them plunked cherries in the center of them. DOT made the potato salad, and it was good.
After dinner, the food was left out for grazing. Christmas afternoon and night was a big munch/play/munch/play kinda thing. No VCRs and video games them, we had toys to play with and fight over. FAO Schwartz South was going on there and we disappeared until we thought of all the good food still prime for nibbling.
And speaking of no VCRs, if you missed the broadcast of Rudolph, Frosty and Charlie Brown, you didn’t get another chance to see if for 12 months. Back in those days, the TV Guide was the most important magazine in the house.