Social Icons

My Groundhog’s Day


If I could redo any day over and over and over again I think I’d pick a Christmas Day from when I was a kid, under the age of 10.

Every single Christmas as a kid, for me, was exactly the same as the year before and the year before that.  We had the same routine every year. 

My sister and I would wake up and run to the opening overlooking our living room to see if Santa had brought any presents.  And there they’d be, all wrapped in tissue paper with our names written on them!  We’d be so excited!  Most years my dad had beat us awake so he could go out and do chores before breakfast and present opening. 

I can’t remember if we ate breakfast before opening presents or not, but Mom usually made a breakfast casserole for Christmas morning.  After eating and getting it all cleaned up we’d start to get ourselves ready to head out to my Grandma’s for dinner.

At Grandma’s house we’d help set the table for lunch while Mom, Grandma, Aunt Carol and Aunt Joan made the food.  Great Aunt Ruth, Great Uncle Milt and their adult sons Jim and Dan would arrive. Aunt Ruth always brought the relish tray because it was easy to transport all the way from their home 2 1/2 hours away.  It’d be noisy when they’d arrive, everyone talking at once, shaking hands hello and just the general excitement.  It was the one time a year we’d see them.  Oh, and on that relish tray were the biggest, fattest black olives I’ve ever seen! I have no idea where she got those big guys but they totally grossed me out and she took the majority of them home every year.

While the women were cooking the men and kids went into the living room, a room we never sat in except for Christmas Day.  Grandma would watch TV in there at night, but every Sunday when we went to eat Sunday Dinner with her we’d stay in the kitchen and dining areas.  It always felt more special on Christmas because we could sit in the living room!  Uncle Milt always sat in the same chair, every year.  They guys all talked, laughed and told stories, it was so fun to sit and listen to them!  And while they were talking my sister, 3 cousins and I snooped under the tree. 

Finally it was time to eat!  The adults all gathered around the big table and us kids sat at the kitchen table.  We’d go through the line filling our plates with the amazing food everyone had brought and cooked.  Grandma always made her white rice with cinnamon on top, yum!  There’d be roast, potatoes and carrots with delicious homemade gravy. That relish tray.  Salads and sides.  Then dessert!  Mom always took Cherry Cheese Pie, my favorite! It’s still not Christmas if I don’t get a slice of Cherry Cheese Pie. 

After lunch it was time to clean up the dishes.  We’d beg to wait and do dishes until after presents but no, dishes came first.  We’d tear apart Grandma’s big dining room table, take all the leaves out, move the extra chairs back to the rooms they came from, then push the table back together as small as it would go and move it over to it’s normal resting spot.  I’d help with the table, then help put dishes away (anything to get out of drying all those dishes!).  Finally, present time!!!

We’d help Grandma hand out the gifts.  One Christmas in particular I remember Uncle Gary and Aunt Joan giving my sister and I matching Smurf sleeping bags!  I can see the picture my mom took in my mind of us laying in our new sleeping bags on Grandma’s dining room floor!  While opening gifts someone always bunched up their paper into a ball and started a wrapping paper fight.  Grandma took that as her cue to run and get a trash bag and start picking it up as fast as possible, ha ha!  I love that memory.

Another great memory of that day is after all the paper was picked up Grandma would then go and get a little tin full of peanut clusters to pass around.  Yum!

Then it was all over.  Because of their long drive home Uncle Milt, Aunt Ruth and the boys would head out.  Then Uncle Gary, Aunt Joan and my cousin Kim would head out, they had an hour drive ahead of them.  And then we’d leave too.  We had one more Christmas to attend for supper at my mom’s folks’ house.

We’d head home, unload our new toys, hang out for a bit while Mom made something to take to Grandpa and Grandma’s that night, then we’d load up and head out again. 

G and G Marie’s was a huge gathering.  My mom is the oldest of 6 kids, plus they are all married, plus they all were having kids, so that’s a lot of bodies in one house!  By the time I was ten there were 16 grandkids in all, 2 more were born after that!  It was NOISY!!!  But so fun!  Us kids would either go upstairs to play in the bedrooms with the toys or down to the basement to play with the old cash register.  It was always so fun!

About 5:30 the phone would ring, it was my Great Grandparents Hammen calling from Arizona.  The phone would get passed around from person to person and we’d all get a little chance to talk and say hello.  They were snowbirds and missed out on Christmas with us every year.  One year they sent a big box full of teddy bears up for us grandkids. They all had either red or blue bows – red for the girls, blue for the boys.  They sent too many boy and not enough girl ones and I got stuck with a boy bear.  I was so upset about that one!

Then it was supper time, 6:00 sharp.  Grandma always (and still does) made cheese soup, along with a pork loin, chili, some yummy potatoes and a few other things.  The aunts would all bring a dish to pass.  Aunt Linda Lee brought deviled Eggs. Aunt Marsha brought taco salad.  Aunt Linda Sue brought hamburger dip.  And so on and so on.  Grandma would make a ton of pies and desserts, plus set out the cookies that us grandkids had helped decorate a few weeks prior.  There would be tables and chairs set up in every room, from the kitchen to the dining room to the sun room to the bonus room – everywhere! 

After supper the aunts helped clean up and do dishes, then it was present time!  Back then us cousin’s would draw names for a fun exchange and the adults would exchange names also.  Sometimes they’d give gag gifts, which always made us laugh. One year I remember my dad got my Aunt Jackie’s name. She was a big Neil Diamond fan so her gift was a VHS tape of one of his concerts plus some hot cherry massage oil (Cherry Cherry was one of his biggest hits).  I didn’t quite get it then but I still chimed in with the laughter over that one.  Good clean innocent fun!

Grandma would get us grandkids gifts, too, which we’d tear into.  The gift opening was always so crazy.  Us kids would all sit down in a spot in the living room and wait for our gifts to be handed out, then it was a free for all as we tore into our gifts!  There was paper everywhere!  Gifts were always misplaced then found again.  The cleanup would start and we’d all sit around playing with our new toys.  Then Grandma would come around with money envelopes for all of us from Great Grandparents Marie and Hammen.  After that Grandpa and Grandma would find a chair and sit and open their many gifts from their kids. I always though that was so fun to watch.

Finally, it was time to go. We were tuckered out from a long day.  It was always such a great Christmas.  Christmas felt like Christmas back then.  I miss those days.  They were so fun.

What would be your Groundhog’s Day?


post signature


  1. Ohh, loved this one! What sweet memories, and what a great idea for a post! Childhood Christmas memories are the best! Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is so great! I love how well you remember it all!
    Because my dad's family was so big (he had 3 brothers and 3 sisters, and copious cousins) our Christmases always moved from location to location.
    But, Easter. Easter was always at Grandma's on the farm. We'd have a big huge meal with all the traditional fixings. My great aunt would always bring the most amazing dinner rolls.
    After our feast the cousins would all patiently wait indoors while the adults went outside to prep for our MASSIVE Easter egg hunt. I loved that.
    Before the day would end, grandma and grandpa would give all the cousins a kite. We'd take to the sprawling yard and lane and fly those until it was time to go home.
    So many good memories.