christmas eve memories + traditions + wrapping station | olive june

christmas eve memories + traditions + wrapping station

when i was a little girl, christmas eve was the most magical day of the year. the anticipation lasted the entire month of december; as so much love and joy filled our home. thanks to my parents {also my two biggest blog fans/readers- thank you.} i can remember my mom putting on kenny and dolly 'once upon a christmas' on the record playing {i am listening right now} as we would sing along and decorate the tree. followed by unwrapping the nativity scene together {i can still smell the old newspapers that each piece was wrapped in} the goal was to be the one who found and unwrapped baby Jesus. nostalgia at its finest. i can also remember sitting on a stool in the kitchen and watching my mom and aunts bake cookies. i loved growing up near my extended family- all of my cousins and i are so close now as a result. our job was to put icing/sprinkles/red hots on the sugar cookies; sneaking in licks from the spoon as much as possible. we would talk and laugh so much ... and when i look back at these memories, nothing is greater than this. 
i picked up this fresh wreath for $4 yesterday! 

i was super productive this week and feel so much better about baby boy arriving... as i trucked around charlotte to prepare for christmas. it was difficult at times {i developed a sore throat/cold last weekend} and often thought, 'i should have shopped in october and wrapped in november', but there is something about the spirit of the city in december, the hustle and bustle, that i do enjoy. plus, so many strangers were so kind to me - allowing me to cut in line and saying encouraging things to me about our blessing. it was humbling. one thing this pregnancy has taught me is to be more empathetic to pregnant women - because it can be hard at times. a lot of my friends have been so supportive, helpful, and totally understand my lack of outings over the past few months. however, it was so heart-warming to see strangers, like the two older gentleman at rite aid {when i felt hot, congested, exhausted, and almost faint but didn't say anything} who both let me go in front of them to check out. i feel like if you can be anything in life- i would choose kindness- and people showed nothing short of that over the past few days. 
last night and this morning, i was finally able to enjoy doing the simple things that i love about the holidays.  nowadays, i find myself doing the very same things that my mom did during this time of year. she always had a wrapping station set up and spent quality time wrapping each gift- she's a beautiful wrapper. singing along to music and making sugary messes in the kitchen. usually dancing with my dad and sharing kisses- which we used to think was just disgusting. now i love this about my parents; still so in love after over forty years. i have been wrapping, baking, and cuddled up with mr. monaco to watch love actually {so good!!} last night. my heart feels very full. 
i loved christmas time as a child and now, but i think i will love it even more as a mom. 
+ christmas eve memories 
i loved getting dressed up {usually in a matching dress with my little sister- think paten leather shoes, ruffled, lace socks, and lots of velvet}, having a traditional dinner with all of my grandparents {my mom is a rockstar cook!}, peppermint christmas tree ice cream treats for dessert, followed by driving around to look at the pretty lights/going to see baby Jesus in the manger in our little downtown square, we would put out the cookies/milk/carrots before going, and there was usually snow covering the ground... my paternal grandpa almost always drove us. we would arrive home to the carrots being 'picked' at on the front porch and the tree directly in the room we walked into... full of presents from santa!!  the record player playing- with the classic old school video camera and tripod set-up. then my sister and i would open our gifts with all of our grandparents {i love looking at all the home videos and seeing all of their personalities- all so sweet/funny/serious/unique in their own way- but so loving} the room was always full of so much excitement as they each helped us open gifts. how lucky am i- memories treasured forever. there is something about nighttime that i still love to this day... i think a part of this comes from my christmas eve love

my paternal grandma, leona- the most gentle and loving person i have ever met {and i was only five when she passed} but i remember her sweet demeanor and genuineness so much. when i turned sixteen, i received a letter from my godmother {a cousin on that side of the family} about how i reminded her of my grandma- i treasure this so much. i love watching her calmness in the videos; her sweet voice and loveliness as she helps us open the presents. 

my paternal grandpa, charlie- a stern german farmer who grew more and more gentle with each passing year. i saw him as a more serious person as a young child - to a loving, soft-hearted, tender man by the time he passed away in 2009. he was 70 years old in the photo below {on the day i was born} and lived to be 95. i am honored to have been able to spend every single year with him on christmas eve. he was a man of faith and the patriarch of our family and i remember these times with him so fondly. 
my maternal grandma, yolanda- again, just the sweetest soul. there isn't a mean bone in her body. she played such a vital role in our upbringing - so active and hands-on- always watching us, playing games, allowing us to freely explore her farm {a child's paradise}. she's now 86 and i have only missed one christmas with her {in 2013} and now this year. she is always in my heart and is one of my very greatest earthly blessings. i just adore this woman. 
when there were five of us- six more grandchildren would be added! 

my maternal grandpa, greg- the funny guy. always making jokes and playing around with us... from horsey rides on his knee, to candy hidden in his farm overalls, to snapping the box close on christmas eve so we couldn't open the box- we loved his fun-loving personality and the christmas eve videos show this so much. he passed when i was ten years old but again, my memories are so vivid- and for that, i am thankful. 
my maternal grandparents on their farm

later in the evening, our neighbors/second family, the ternaskys, would usually come over to play with our gifts- as our parents enjoyed cocktails and we stayed up super late. santa always came to their house the next morning. the next morning, christmas day, we often woke up to a big/special gift left behind by santa and would set up/play with our toys before going to my mom's childhood farmhouse for a fun/chaotic {we still like it that way} christmas day was always spent with my mom's family. every year was the same and so magical in its own way.  

in honor of today and its special memories, i have decided to share these moments instead of a 37 week pregnancy update; however, i am full term as of today- yay! and baby is healthy and a very big boy {measuring around 8.9 pounds- however, they usually over-estimate on the ultrasound} he has adorable chubby cheeks and we just loved seeing him on the ultrasound monday. personally, i saw my baby brother, alex {whom i adore}. i was in second grade when he was born and he was my live baby doll. we will see when he comes out but i am so in love with him already. 
our greatest gift of all!

...i will update you all next week... 
baking this morning! 
pumpkin and sugar cookies {with green icing and tiny gingerbread men}

+ my wrapping station 
a few pics of my wrapping station
+ wrapped gifts: 
for the first time, i decided to wrap with red velvet and gingham 
i almost always use brown paper, white, silver, or gold paper 
the red is festive and i am loving it. 
esp. with the black and white gingham! 
{& i usually use way more glitter - i think my friends/family will be thankful for this year's change!}
i decided to put pieces of our tree on the gifts this year 
                                           what are your favorite christmas eve memories?

                                                  enjoy your christmas! thoughts to you all
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  1. Holidays were pretty simple growing up as we didn't live near any extended family. We would go to the Christmas Eve service around 5 or 6 come home open one present and maybe watch a holiday movie.

    Your wrapping station is beautiful. I will admit I am a pretty terrible wrapper...I just don't have the eye for it!

  2. Cheers to making it full term! My ultrasound showed the opposite...he's measuring a tiny little guy! But who knows, really! I just can't wait to see that squishy little face in real life! I hope you had the most magical Christmas, friend! xo

  3. What a beautiful blog you have! I love your writing. Your Christmas memories are so amazing. I hope I'll be able to create memories like these for my own children some day. Thank you for the inspiration :)
    Kindness does come a long way and I strongly believe it makes the world a better place. So happy you got to experience it during this sometimes stressful season :)
    Have a wonderful week,