Making Merry: Cozy Maine Morning

Making Merry is our first guest series. Every Friday of Advent we'll hear from a lady about how she and her family make the Christmas season merry. From the land of LLBean and lobster, Hannah shares the impressive wake-up call she and her brother share on Christmas morning at her home in Maine and the cheer that follows. It sounds like the perfect recipe for a cozy family-centered morning.

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Christmas morning is my favorite time of the whole year. Our Strickland Christmas traditions come in all shapes and sizes from the Haribo gummy bears in the stockings to the ridiculous 4 a.m. wake up call for my younger brother and I. But it’s because of these traditions that Christmas is so special.

Most of these traditions, though, weren’t planned, but rather just happened one year and never stopped.  Ever since we were tiny, my little brother and I have gotten up before the sun to savor the sight of the glowing tree. We used to do this when we were little, because the tree is so much more beautiful and magical in the dark. Now, we drag our tired, adult bodies out of bed and crash on the couch in heaps of blankets “for tradition’s sake,” trying to convince each other that it’s worth it to get up so early. By 4 am we’re just sitting there, talking, quoting favorite movies, or sometimes accidentally falling asleep.

Around 6, we always wake up my grandmother, who comes to sit with us, talk, and what she called “plan our lives.” When we were little this was dreaming up all the jobs we could have, but has changed into a “where could you live” as we’ve gotten older.

After about two hours of successful life-planning, we tiptoe upstairs to outside my parents’ room and wake them by singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” at steadily increasing volume until we’re singing heartily outside the door. As they shuffle downstairs to make coffee, Ben and I jump on our older brother, Seth (a favorite tradition of mine–less so for Seth).

While we guzzle strong coffee (we drink so much coffee that my parents bought a pump carafe), we open stockings—giant green, white, and red socks with our names knitted into them and bells on the top, all handmade by my grandmother. She’s been trying to teach me how to knit socks for years now so I’ll be able to add to the collection, but the heels get me every time.

Every year our stockings are filled with small presents, chocolate coins, Haribo gummy bears, nuts, and an orange at the toe. We then have a whole conversation about how we’ll eat breakfast and then open presents, but that never actually happens. So we pop the homemade cinnamon buns in the oven and move on to gift-giving. The conversation about how we’ll do breakfast before gifts has become a tradition of its own.

Most of these moments probably don’t sound very special to someone who hasn’t been to a Strickland Christmas, but they’re some of the traditions I love most. And I think Haribo gummy bears will always taste like Christmas to me.

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