for Kendell,
Christmas Writing Challenge #6: An Overdue Thank-You Letter

Christmas Writing Challenge #5: Traditional Gifts

Writing Prompt: What traditional gifts---things you received every year---did you get? Out of those traditional gifts, which individual one stands out the most in your memory?

Traditions give a personal shape to our holiday experiences. It seems like each family develops its own, unique spin on more universal traditions. Traditional gifts are important, I think, because they are a combination of knowledge (you know you're getting something from that category) and surprise (you don't know what specific thing it'll be). These are the gifts that, if they were missing, the holidays wouldn't feel right.

In our family, we had several traditional gifts:

Playing with baby dolls was one of my favorite things to do as a child, and we received a new one every year. They'd come in boxes, usually, with accessories like little combs and brushes, different clothes, tiny dishes. Those baby dolls sparked my innate love of babies, I think; even now, when I happen to catch the plastic smell of a new baby doll, I am flooded with the feeling of anticipating being a mother that I felt even as a three-year-old. Amy12

(Becky and me holding our new baby dolls; I think I was six and she was three here.) There isn't a picture of my favorite dolls. These were rag dolls, a boy and a girl, with yellow yarn hair. I got them when I was in second grade, and my best friend Amy and I spent many, many hours dressing them with the baby clothes I found (no doubt snooping!) one day.

My mom isn't a reader like the rest of us are. But I am certain she knew how important reading and books were to her daughters, because every Christmas we received at least one new book. My clearest memory of Christmas books is of the Christmas I was 15. My parents had given me Jean Auel's books, Clan of the Cave Bear etc, and when I found myself with an empty hour that afternoon, I dove into my new books. My dad was reading something downstairs by the tree, with a fire roaring in the fireplace, so I sat down there with him (after putting my new record, Forever Young by Alphaville, on the record player) and started reading. That is an indelible memory for me: fire, music, lights on the tree, a good new book, all in the silent company of my dad.

New Outfit
It wouldn't be Christmas without something new to wear. Finding boots, shirts, dresses, or jeans in your pile of gifts was always thrilling. Once I was a little bit older, I would shop with my mom so she knew exactly what I wanted to have for my new Christmas clothes, but when I was younger, I always loved what she gave me. Check out this outfit, circa 1979; I remember opening those boots and just loving them:Amy6_boots_edit

Christmas-Eve PJs
Because you have to look good in the Christmas-morning pictures! Many years, my mom sewed our Christmas-Eve PJs. I SO wish this picture was in focus (in my mind it is), because this was my FAVORITE nightgown I ever had. My mom made them for Becky and me out of flannel-backed satin, only it wasn't the cheap, thin stuff you can find now. The flannel was thick on the inside, and the satin was substantial. I loved that nightgown! My older sister Suzette is in the picture with us, and our niece Alicia, who we were always babysitting (her mom was a young teenager, struggling to figure out how to be a mom and a wife and everything that entails at about 16, so we helped her out); she almost felt like another sister! Amy8

Resolution: I do all of these traditional gifts for my kids (except for the baby doll thing, obviously; Haley was more of a Barbie doll kind of girl), but I'm not sure I've ever shared the stories behind them. This year, I will!



I love these pictures! They are great. Will you email the lot of them to me? I'm wondering what other treasures you got.

Thanks! Love your Christmas writings. They are helping to me remember and write things that I would never think of otherwise.


So did your mom get that flannel-backed satin at the Barbizon outlet in Provo?? Because I still have some of that fabric that I bought in college--it was such great fabric that I bought yards and yards of it. Each of my babies has had a quilt made with the satin on one side and the flannel on the other. My youngest is 10 and she still sleeps with her quilt every night (come to think of it, so do all the other kids except the 24yo RM!). I still have a little left, and those 70s colors are back in style! Love your Christmas musings and I'm also loving your BPS class. Maybe I'll even write something!!!

Kayci Bitton

So I can't believe how much me and my sisters look like you and becky! It is crazy!! I love these writings they are so fun to read! Love you!

Barbara Brandt

I came to these challenges through the class you are teaching called "Gift of Words," at BPS. I love getting great Writing Challenges and Prompts to use in many ways.

Thanks. Happy Holidays to you and your loved one. A Blessed New Year as well.

chris jenkins

i think these challenges are all awesome and have been enjoying reading your responses. i wish i was a better writer and had the time to participate.

love your new 'do. very stylish.


I wrote an entry today to respond to this challenge. Thanks for posting them, Amy.

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