I grew up in a family of eight children so the holidays were always hectic. To calm the morning madness and make sure we all had the chance to see and open our presents at the same time, we had a Christmas morning rule. No one was allowed to go downstairs until after breakfast.
Mom would pick a different child each year to be her "helper" and she would go downstairs with her "helper" to get breakfast ready. The advantage of being the "helper" was that you got to see all the presents Santa left behind before anyone else. Of course it was a look, but don't touch deal.
While my mom prepared a huge fruit platter with sliced apples, oranges, kiwi, pineapple, bananas and grapes, the "helper" would carry the bowls, spoons, cereal, milk, toothpicks and plates upstairs.
(Note: A week before Christmas, Mom would let us pick out our favorite sugar cereals for Christmas morning and a couple of healthy cereals for the adults) We usually picked one of the bigger bedrooms to host breakfast in. After all the food was upstairs we'd kneel down as a family, bless the food and eat.
Everyone would sit where ever they could find a spot. After eating, the "helper" would help Mom bring all the food and dishes back down to the kitchen. While that was going on the rest of the family in anxious anticipation would line up on the stair steps in order of age, youngest child on the bottom step. Mom would stand at the top and Dad would take pictures of the whole family from the stairwell.
When the pictures were over we would all place our hands on each others shoulders to form a choo-choo train down the stairs. Everyone would make choo-choo noises like "Choo-choo" and "Chugga-chugga" as we walked into the family room to see our stockings filled and presents left behind by Santa.
I love the memories of that Christmas morning tradition so much that I continue the tradition with my young children. When I was married and started a family of my own, I asked my mom where the tradition came from. To my amazement, she told me her mother started the tradition of eating breakfast before seeing the presents because she was tired of the children waking up Christmas morning and stuffing themselves with just candy.
It's funny how something so small could grow into something so big that would touch generations and instill lasting memories of family togetherness.
By Bonnie from Aberdeen, MD