Born in the late fifties in New Jersey, my Christmas memories start in the 60's.
Traditions held strong in our family, I am the sixth of seven children. Our family home was on a dead end street on what had been an apple farm, in what was considered a country bumpkin town at the time.
Life was magical, especially Christmas.
My oldest brother was extremely talented and was studying Interior Design at the time. (He went on to have a fabulous career) We would wait with baited breath for our Mother's birthday to arrive on the 14th of December so the decorating could begin. And so it did, from a fake cardboard fireplace to Santa Clauses in every shape and size, to the manger with a crib that sat empty until Christmas Day.
The tree itself was never decorated until Christmas Eve. Coming from an Italian heritage my Mother would make the traditional seven fishes dinner.
The four younger children including myself were sent to bed early with a promise that Santa would arrive in the morning. The other three would attend midnight mass returning home at 1:00am. We would then be awoken with cheers that Santa had arrived, and down we would come in the middle of the night to find bicycles, dolls, and every latest toy on the market.
Imagine just how exciting this was for us. I feel fortunate and grateful that I have these memories.
Photo: Me and my siblings, Christmas 1961
These days my husband and I live in the Florida Keys at Christmas time. We have had to make our own traditions.
Far from the cold days of December, we attend boat parades, decorate palm trees and use shells and starfish for our tree ornaments.
Different yes, but no matter what age or where you are Christmas is still a magical time.