Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Canvas for Christmas: Day 2

Ok, THAT was fun. :) It was so hard not to comment back to you on all of your amazing memories, but I didn't think it would be fair to enter myself in the drawing! I have to tell you after reading the ones about children born or pets received on that day I looked over at Riley, and he was giving me the evil eye.

While I wrote about my most memorable gift yesterday, my best Christmas gift ever was Riley in 2003, of course. A few more pupcorn treats and he may just forgive me for that snafu.

So, on with the results! Thanks to Random.org I can say: Congratulations Neas Nuttiness!!! 

Here was her most memorable gift (and it's a doozy!!!):

The most memorable gift that I ever received for Christmas, must be child #7 who was born on Christmas Eve!

I have quick deliveries, and most of the staff at the hospital know me - BUT - on this night there was a new "crew on board", and the sweet little nurse, didn't want to call my doctor when I arrived. Luckily, he is a dear man (and he and his family are dear friends) and we have home and cell numbers, soooooooooo dear husband gave him a call. About 3 minutes after we arrived upstairs, I gave birth (fully dressed I might add) in the birthing room, where said sweet little nurse put me, in order to monitor my progress. I was on top of a lovely comforter (not so lovely afterwards I might add), and sweet little nurse kept saying "STOP - you can't do that...the doctor isn't here!"

Ralph (the doc) showed up after Solomon was "checked, wrapped, and in my arms". He got stuck in Christmas Eve traffic, and was so frantic to get to me, that when he arrived at the hospital...he pulled into the ambulance entrance, jumped out of his car (still running) and came flying up the stairs to the maternity wing. Thank goodness a quick thinking security guard moved the car, locked it up, and brought the keys upstairs.

All this took place during the staff Christmas Party (Yum - I got some really good eats that night!), so several of the staff's husbands got to listen in from down the hall,to the "goings ons" in the birthing room. Thank goodness for them, I'm not a screamer during labor and delivery!

Yes my most memorable Christmas gift, was Solomon Rafael, born December 24, 1989.

Neas: Email me at gitzengirl@gmail.com with your mailing address!

Christmas Canvas Giveaway

Here's today's canvas you can win: IMG_3716(the square accents have light blue in them; hard to see in the photo) 

I don't know about all of you, but I've listened to many-a-friend lament over Christmas traditions after they were married. Apparently the debate of when to open Christmas presents is enough to incite talk of divorce, or at the very least great insults toward the opposing side of the family's traditions.

In my family, the tradition was born out of necessity more than anything else. We would start with food: some type of hors d'oeuvres, and then soup and sandwich. And of course sweet treats, too. One of my favorite parts was that we used mom's good china, crystal glasses and wedding silver for the place settings... nothing like a pretty table to make it all feel special.

Of course, trying to be patient through the meal knowing there were gifts under a twinkling tree in the next room wasn't the easiest task, but we managed.

Then we'd gather in the living room and gifts would be handed out one at a time... no random ripping through paper. Everyone would "ooh and ahh" and move on to the next gift. While it was exciting and respectful and fun, what it was really about was stalling for time.

Mom and Dad were just trying to keep six kids awake way past their bedtimes so we wouldn't fall asleep before heading out to Midnight Mass. I always thought it was magical... going into church with the air crisp in the dark of night. We'd walk up to the door with sounds of the choir echoing into the darkness and the light inside illuminating the details of the stained glass windows. Christmas was magical for so many reasons, not the least of which was celebrating the birthday of Jesus as the chimes announced the midnight hour.

We'd get back home all tucked in our beds (I don't remember that part as I usually fell asleep at some point during Mass or the ride home), and waking in the morning knowing that it was Christmas and Santa had arrived was nothing short of spectacular.

Answer this question in the comment section to win today's canvas:
Do you open gifts Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? And did you have to compromise about it after marriage?


  1. We made a commitment when we first married to always spend Christmas morning in our own home. We didn't want to set a precedent of going to other family members' homes for Christmas because we knew that when we had our daughter we would want to be home for Christmas. We have "deviated" from the norm a couple of times: we'd gone to Galveston for Christmas Eve dinner with friends in 2004. As we left their home to head to midnight mass, we discovered it had started snowing! In Texas! On Christmas Eve! Since there were SEVERAL bridges between their home and ours, we headed on home - the 1 hour trip took us 3 hours that night. When we got home, we played in the snow at 2 in the morning because we didn't know how long it would last. Then we opened our gifts! We slept in and were thrilled to discover there was still snow on the ground the next morning. :)

    Last year we went to midnight services again, and when we got home we decided to open our gifts (again around 2 a.m.) We pretty much do what makes the three of us happy and don't worry too much about what my family or his family thinks. Our daughter and the memories that we create with/for her are our priorities!

  2. We open Christmas morning, but we do some family events on Christmas Eve. Sometimes we give PJ's on Christmas Eve, and sometimes we select a specific gift that can be opened early (but just one!).

    I did not have to compromise about it after marriage, but I did have to teach my husband that he wouldn't die if something was a surprise to him on Christmas. I did this by sneaking a whole gaggle of fly fishing gifts past him without him having a clue. He decided surprises could be fun after all.

  3. We open one present on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas morning. Sometimes the kids have lots of Christmas presents from extended family under our tree early so we usually let them open two or three if this is the case. The big ones are always saved for Christmas morning, but Santa's name only goes on one. The best ones are from grandparents or us, because in all honesty we want the thanks for the amazing gifts!

    We did not have to compromise--it wasnt ever a conversation even. His family and mine have always done the same thing.

    I love your blog and Merry Christmas!!

  4. We open our presents on Christmas Day usually after we have had Dinner. The years we go to Houston to the granddaughters we open a gift on the beach at Galvaston on Christmas Eve. Hope there is still some beach for us this year. My dog DeeOGee who could be a twin of Riley loves to go tothe beach.

  5. Hey girl!

    We always open ONE present on Christmas Eve. For the boys it's always pajamas that match to wear that night. ;-) Then we get up CHristmas morning and head straight for the tree. We have the boys open at the same time b/c odds are we've pretty much gotten them the same things. Which is the case this year. So close in age, it ends up that way. This year we are going NOWHERE and doing NOTHING outside of our house, and I love it. The four years we were at home with kids we would open at our house first. Then get ready and go to my moms. Then my Grandma's. Then Jake's Aunt and Uncle's house. We finally switched it to my moms house and his parents house on Christmas Eve, then my grandma's and his aunt and uncle's on Christmas Day. Keep in mind we always had a new baby at Christmas time (luck of the draw LOL!) and the other kids needed naps at some point in there. Yeah, it was chaos at it's finest. So this year I am looking forward to keeping it LOW KEY, although I will miss our families very much.

    The only thing we compromised on was how much time to spend where. Jake's parents were very pushy about our time with them....they would even CALL US AT MY GRANDMA'S during our time with them and say "are you coming yet? are you coming yet?" So, splitting time with all of our family members was the biggest compromise. Makes things difficult, especially when they all live in the same town. I always dreaded the holidays b/c of all the running around with the kids we had to do, but this year I am so looking forward to just enjoying my boys at home all day and doing our own thing. It will be nice and cozy and peaceful. ;-) And I won't have to get dressed up. HAHAHAHA!!

  6. I celebrated Christmas TOTALLY different from my husband while growing up. I grew up with the works (but no Santa), meaning: tree, lights, decorations, church Presentations, sometimes turkey, sometimes ham, present on Christmas Eve, and the rest Christmas day, not including gifts from other family members cause that was usually left for weekend after Christmas. When I married my husband, I was made to understand that in the culture he grew up in, Evangelical Christians believed that Christmas should be celebrated EVERY day and not just on one day. The tree, the lights, and such had pagan roots, and so he was against them. Although, I do have up the nativity set and some decorations. That is a lot considering I live in country where such things are made into mini idols to some. I have relinqued my Christmases for simpleer celebrating. We get together with friends to be together and have fun and play games, but... gift exchanges and Christmas specials on tv, and so many things are mostly memories now. I am really grateful that tomorrow we leave for America to have Christmas as I have not had in a very long time. I am blessed because God IS my God of every day. And He has shown me the blessings of remembering Him every day, but I also value that small time frame where the focus is on Him... where I can remember, to its fullest, the wonderful and most extravagant and most sacrificial gift He has ever given me... Himself. What a gift. So, even though I celebrate differently than I used to, I know that those extras really don't matter in the whole scheme of things. they are special to have, but what matters most is drawing close to Jesus for the REASON we celebrate, to say Happy Birthday Jesus... to say thank you, and to share the truth of his coming with my kids and others around me. It is all different but still a blessing. I have had to go BACK TO THE BASICS of faith, no frills and baubles and twinkling lights attached. That is a learning experience in itself. Not always easy, but... it is okay.

  7. Up until my brother got married, we would open presents on Christmas Eve as an immediate family, then head to either Mom or Dad's side on Christmas Day. Now it depends on when my brother and his family can make the 6 hour drive back home to open presents with them. The only compromise my husband and I have had to make is due to his work since his family gets together in October before his grandparents leave for Texas. He does swinging 12 hour shifts and the past 2 years he's had to work. Luckily, Aiden our son has been too little to understand that he was having to wait until the day after to open presents. This year he doesn't have to work finally, but baby #2 (due Jan 7th) may decide to come early and who knows when we'll get to open presents. I'm just excited to be together with my family and I enjoy every chaotic moment.

  8. We I was young, we would open 1 gift on Christmas Eve and have to wait until Christmas Day to open to remaining and then the ones Santa left. Now that we are older, we usually open them all up Christmas Eve...and I HATE IT. It leaves really nothing for Christmas Day. Since my sister and I are not married nor do we have kids, Christmas Day is spent with my immediate family (mom, dad, me, and my sister) since the rest of the family is off doing their own thing visiting the other side of the family.

    Christmas Eve is our big night when the whole family comes over to eat and open gifts. Things change as we get older, but some traditions are still there.

    What are you going to be doing for Christmas?

  9. We give our kids a box of books (3 or 4) each on Christmas Eve, because that was my favorite gift as a child, and because it gives them something fun to do while waiting to go to mass late that evening. And they draw names amongst themselves, buy a small gift for their exchange person, and exchange those on Christmas Eve as well. The rest of the gifts are opened on Christmas Day.

    My husband and I each had a different set of Christmas traditions growing up, so we just made up our own way to do things once we were married. Neither of us was locked into "needing" to continue having everything the way it had been in childhood. I loved my family's traditions and he loved his, but we were cool with making our own up as we went along. Seems to have worked okay for the last 25 years, lol!

    Merry Christmas, Sara. Haven't read anything from you over on Pete Wilson's blog in awhile, and I was worried about you. It's good to visit your blog and check in.

  10. Love the canvas for today! Beautiful and oh so true :)

    As a child we always did Christmas morning. When we were itty bitty, everything would be set out in a toy land display! As we got older, Mom wrapped up the gifts and we opened one by one.
    We've continued to open on Christmas morning with our kids and it's been great. I suspect though, that when grandchildren come, Mike and I will put on Santa hats and make the rounds from house to house to see them!
    Mike and I have never disagreed on these traditions. The man just does not sweat the small stuff!
    Love to you today~

  11. We do both, Christmas eve is all about family, go to church come home and open gifts from each other. Have snacks, play games and have a nice evening. Christmas morning is all about Santa. We open the gifts from Santa then go to breakfast in the park. A family in our church has breakfast in the park every year for anyone to come and join and bring a dish. We live in Florida, but more times than not it has been cold and wet on Christmas morning.
    It's a good thing my husband's family did the same so no need to compromise!

  12. We open gifts Christmas morning, but the girls insist on one gift Christmas Eve and usually that is one that they exchange with each other.

    You have a wonderful give away, how thoughtful.

  13. My family opens gifts on Chrismtas morning. I guess it started because Santa always came overnight on Christmas Eve before Christmas morning and ate the cookies and milk I left for him and then he left gifts under the tree. I guess the tradition just stuck with me as I got older, LOL! As for the compromise, LOL, no because I'm not married. ;)
    When I do get married I hope to continue opening the gifts on Christmas morning. :)

  14. Growing up that was always the argument between my sister and I. She wanted to open everything on Christmas Eve and I wanted to wait. It was war! Of course, my mom complicated things by not putting names on gifts when she caught us peaking once. The biggest kick there was she didn't always remember whose was whose.

    For me this problem was solved when I got married. Hubby is a die hard open only one on Christmas eve and the rest on Christmas morning. I like it that way. Makes the sweetness of the season last a little longer, especially with kids. :)

    Now, on Christmas Eve, we make cookies for Santa and eat popcorn and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" ... and you know what, it is a wonderful life!

    And, you rock Miss Gitz! What a fun contest.

  15. Growing up, we always opened gifts on Christmas morning, after a breakfast of cinnamon rolls and reading the Christmas story in the Bible. We were as organized as your family, opening one present at a time in a systematic order to make it last as long as possible. haha

    My husband also opened gifts on Christmas morning because his birthday is Christmas Eve! His mom was very good about making his birthday special despite it being a holiday, so no Christmas presents can be opened that day and the plates, napkins and cake (yes, we still do this) are always for decorated for birthday only.

    So there was no conflict, just lots to celebrate in those few days and more to be thankful for.

    PS. For all of us who don't win a canvas, would you consider selling some?

  16. Both -- the adults open in the evening and the kids open one or two. Then Christmas morning is for the children. That is until the children become adults. Then It's Christmas eve. And nope, we never had to negotiate. My husband knows what's worth arguing about and doesn't think much is worth it.

  17. When I was growing up we always opened one gift on Christmas Eve (usually pajamas) and the rest of the gifts first thing the next morning. My husband's family stayed up late and opened everything at midnight on Christmas Eve.

    Our first Christmas as a married couple was also our daughter's first Christmas and I wanted things done my family's way, even though we were with my husband's family. Needless to say, we fought, things went my way, and that's how we do it now. He compromised more than me in this particular area!

  18. Wow - I'm so excited. Thank you so very much. I will hang it proudly. I still would like to buy a canvas from you. You need to go into business!!!
    As for todays question:
    We have always opened our gifts from the grandparents on Christmas Eve, and then on Christmas morning we opened gifts at home with the kids.
    Since there are soooooooooo many of us. For several years we had our Christmas Dinner (and gift exchanges) at our church. The last year that we all got together, there were about 45 of us!
    This year there will just be me, my husband and child #10. The house will be so quiet, we won't know what to do with ourselves.
    BUT, that's the way it's supposed to be...raise your children, so that they can go on to live their own lives - but it still makes me a little sad:(
    Thank you Sara, for being a bright part of my day!

  19. We usually open our gifts on Christmas Eve after we get home from my hubby's parents home. We have a drink and relax and open gifts... We dont have kids yet, so its really quite romantic.
    It's never really been an issue for us as to what day we open them, we just do whatever we feel like it. :)

  20. We generally open our immediate family gifts on Christmas Eve but always save stockings for Christmas morning. Then we open gifts with our extended family on Christmas day so we get to spread it out. I really don't ever remember this being an issue in our early marriage but since we are celebrating our 36th Christmas together maybe I have just forgotten! As my mother mentioned above, when we go to Houston to my daughter's we go to the beach at Galveston and open a package. The two dogs absolutely love running on the empty beach. Gay

  21. I would love to win this gift especially since it was made by a very nice person. You have to be very nice or you could not write all the good stuff you do. Have a very blessed holiday season.

  22. On my other comment, I forgot to answer the qustion. That is what happens when you get old. It was always a family tradition that Santa came on Christmas eve and we opened gifts on Christmas day. I still save one for that time.

  23. We always got to open one gift, of our choosing, on Christmas Eve. It was always a big production because we'd debate FOR-EVER about which gift we wanted to open! Now that I'm about to get married my fiance' and I are sticking with the one gift on Christmas Eve tradition but instead of us picking which one we want to open, the person gets to open the one we give them!

  24. Growing up my sister & I would open one gift on Christmas Eve after reading about Jesus's birth in Luke. Once we were grown, we started opening on Christmas morning since my sister would be at her in-laws Christmas Eve.

  25. We always open our gifts Christmas morning after reading the Christmas story together as a family. jamie

  26. Both! But santa doesn't wrap, he shoves as much as he can in the sock or next to it :)

    Since I actually had a relationship end over where we would spend Christmas : ) I was willing to compromise and do 1 day here and 1 day there... but his mother was not having it and I told him to honor her request. I guess a part of me already knew...

    Anyways, hubby and I had this talk way before we even talked about marriage and we happily agreed to our current arrangement.

    Plus, we've discovered Christmas is wherever your family is and now the "how" we do it isn't as important.

    Congrats Neas! Thank you Sara for the chance to share about ourselves!


    I'm the brat who wants to open presents WAY before Christmas ever arrives.

    My husband is the brat who INSISTS on following the rules. All the time. With EVERYTHING. So, no early openings.

    Help. I think I married a pharisee.

  28. Growing up, we were permitted one gift on Christmas Eve and the rest were for Christmas morning...but mom and dad didn't fuss if "morning" mean 4AM. LOL

    My first marriage resulted in two beautiful children as did my husband's first. We ended up celebrating whenever we could get all four kids together...and sometimes that was only an hour or two on Christmas Day. We ran the roads picking up one set and dropping off the other later in the day. 50 miles to my ex-wife-in-law's place and back and then 90 miles to my ex-husband's parents and back.

    As a result of this, when our kids had kids we insisted that their children be allowed to celebrate Christmas together in their own homes. And we managed our schedule accordingly.

    And through the years, it developed that we would have everyone at our place on Christmas Eve.

    This year, my daughter will take over the Christmas Eve tradition and I am looking forward to that.

    But, you know, it doesn't matter when or where as long as you're together.

  29. Well, that was a bit of a problem when we first got married. My husbands side of the family celebrated Christmas day as did my own. The first year we were married we had Christmas with his family. I said that was it. So we started a new tradition the next Christmas. Christmas eve with his family, Christmas day with mine. We open presents with our immediate family on Christmas morning usually....however, the last couple of years....it is Christmas eve. I don't know what we will do this year.

  30. We open our presents on Christmas day.

    I had to laugh at your comment about friends thinking divorce was an option when trying to work out all the kinks in traditions. Our big marriage compromise, however, was "to wrap" or "not to wrap" Santa presents. It was a very big, heated discussion each year before having children, and for some crazy reason I actually gave in. Our santa gifts come wrapped. Emma's all in plain red paper. Ian's all in plain green. And the funny thing is, now I wouldn't have it any other way...because that is now OUR tradition.

  31. It really has worked out well for us. His side always celebrated Christmas eve. That was their big day, opening presents that night. Mine was Christmas day.

    We decided to open "our" presents Christmas morning, together, in our home. However, we spend Christmas eve night with his side, Christmas afternoon with mine...and Christmas morning as the (now) three of us.

    Each moment is special.

  32. Christmas birthing stories are just the best! That one was certainly worth a prize!

    We open our gifts on Christmas morning, and in my family when we were children, we did the same. There were 8 children in my family and as the older ones grew up, we would open our gifts after the little ones went to bed on Christmas Eve and leave the morning fun for the little ones.

    For a while I talked my husband into opening one gift on Christmas Eve, but we now all wait until Christmas morning.


  33. For the last several years, we've been all over the place for the holidays. We lived 2 hours away from family, so would usually spend the 24th-26th visiting both sides of the family. We always did our family Christmas on the
    23rd, and then left Santa a note to meet us at grandma's.
    This year we still live 2 hours away, but we are making two separate trips to visit our families on Christmas Eve and then again on Christmas Day . . . because we SO WANT TO BE AT OUR OWN HOUSE ON CHRISTMAS MORNING!! My children are 5,3, and 1, and I just want to have the memory of waking up at home Christmas morning, coming down the stairs, having time to open and play and eat breakfast, going to church with our own family, etc. etc. They're young for such a short time that, to us, it's worth the extra driving that we'll have to endure : )

  34. I came here to you from Coloradolady,and what beautiful memories have I found....and your things are beautiful...and oh your pup...it would be an honor to win a canvas from you...and share a memory!
    Noni's Birthday was Christmas Eve...so we would gather for the birthday party first...our All Italia family was large then...and such sweet memories of the "Birthday" tablecloth being removed...the Christmas Tablecloth going on...the chesnuts going in the oven,the Tom and Jerry bowl arriving to the buffet...and the presents coming down from Noni's Secret Closet....
    Our Poppa gleamed with delight as we all opened our gifts...he was ESPECIALLY fond of seeing his first great-great grandchild (my daughter Jen) open her gift. Poppa at 92 was like a kid again with my Jen...what I would not give to have one more Christmas at Noni and Poppas! And still to this day...at my house on Christmas Eve as our family is that of few we sing happy birthday to Noni..send Poppa a hug....Drink Eggnog with a "saluta" to him...and tear into those christmas gifts....
    I am single but have dated the same wonderful man for 15 years...he thank God is willing to do whatever my little heart desires...

  35. Christmas morning. though Mom and Dad allowed us to choose one gift on Christmas Eve, I think it was just to get us to "shut up." LOL

  36. We open our gifts on Christmas morning and no change there after I got married. Once we had the kiddos, we all open one gift Christmas Eve - and it's always new pajamas! Last year we got my son red "Cars" pjs and discovered later on Christmas day, that they had rubbed off red all pver his new stuffed beagle pup AND his bed covers! No more red pj's that aren't washed first!
    Hugs to you for your constant inspiration to us all and a blessed and merry holiday to you!!
    Beth Ann

  37. We both grew up opening gifts on Christmas morning so never thought about doing it differently with our own kids. Now, one son and his family come to our house each Christmas while the other son and his family alternate years between us and her family. So far, they are all still willing to travel for Christmas. And when that changes, I hope we will remember to gracefully change with the times.

  38. We did not have to compromise when we got married, both families celebrated different days, so it always was very easy.
    We open presents on Christmas Eve from family, after attending a church service and then Santa comes on Christmas morning and leaves unwrapped gifts. I told my children once they started having children of their own, Santa would only come for the grandchildren, but it didn't work out that way. My kids just can't let Santa go, so now Santa comes for kids and our beautiful granddaughter. My concern is as we get older, how are we going to stay up till everyone has gone to sleep, in order for Santa to come?? We may have to go to bed and set the alarm!!
    Hope everyone has a blessed Christmas!!

  39. Growing up, we always opened one present on Christmas Eve after church. It was always our calendar for the next year. Since getting married, I don't get a calendar from my husband, so we just open everything Christmas morning. The only compromise we've had to make is the manor in which we open gifts. Growing up my brother and I had a free for all. Now with 3 girls, my husband insists on doling out gifts one at a time. Kind of drives me nuts because it takes forever, but we get to appreciate everyone's reactions to their new stuff.

    Just found your blog last week. Really enjoying it!

  40. Growing up in a family of 6 children, we got only one big present from Santa which we always got on Christmas morning since it WAS from Santa! But every Christmas eve, we got to pick one present from our parents to open....mama always managed to have us open the one with new pj's so we would look nice on Christmas morning for pictures.

    I followed the same tradition in my own family...we always had Santa on Christmas morning. I loved Santa because he NEVER had to wrap presents. We too, let our boys open one gift on Christmas eve.

    One tradition my mother had that I wish I had carried on, is that she baked a birthday cake for Jesus and we celebrated His birthday before any presents. So we had cake before Sunday School!

    I'm new to reading your blog and I love the canvasses. Do you sell them?