Memories of Christmas: Mary Connealy

I have this wonderful Christmas memory of practicing with my brother and sisters—practicing sneaking past my mom and dad’s bed. (They weren’t in it. It was daytime.) My brother and one sister played the roles of Mom and Dad and lay down in bed with their eyes closed and listened. Then one of my sisters and I—three of us slept in the bedroom past theirs—would tiptoe past while “Mom and Dad” listened for creaking floorboards. I’ll back up and set this up just a little.

First, it’s important to know that Mom and Dad could have put a stop to this if they’d wanted to, but they probably thought it was fun. Either that or they were just too nice. But every Christmas morning, all my growing-up years, my brothers and sisters and I would get up crazy early in the morning and open our presents. I have no idea how early. I have a sneaking suspicion we were getting up almost the instant my mom and dad went to bed.

Instead of growling at us to get back to bed, my parents would just come out and watch and enjoy the madness and let us tear into the gifts. There was no order to it. None of the lovely “taking turns” I hear about in some families. Nope, we just launched ourselves onto the tree, tossing presents to each other, ripping them open when we found one with our own name on it. It was chaos.

This went on until we got the tree utterly stripped. Then we played and talked and just generally had the time of our lives for who knows how long before going back to bed.

Connealy 1

I’m the one farthest left…close to Santa. I’m almost five.

But one year, the one I described above, was different. That year we had an emergency. Why? Because we had a new housing situation. With the birth of my sixth sibling, my parents had added on to the house, and our two-bedroom house became (brace yourself) a three-bedroom farmhouse.

It should have been more, because the addition had three bedrooms, but the old house didn’t really have two bedrooms. It had a tiny attic, and my parents slept in a room that was more a part of the living room. So when the “new house” came, we quit using those bedrooms, and so we didn’t gain that much.

But we thought it was a mansion—a mansion with unpredictably creaking floors. So we needed to find out which ones not to step on. Somehow, even though my folks never stopped us, we seemed to think we needed to start without getting caught.

All eight kids. It was hard to get us to all stand still, I'm told.

All eight kids. It was hard to get us to all stand still, I’m told.

At the time of the sneaking incident, we had one more child than this black-and-white picture. I slept in the Girls’ Room with two sisters. My parents slept in the room between us and the rest of the house. My brothers slept in another room that wasn’t blocked by Mom and Dad. In that same room were two cribs, one containing the baby in the picture (who would have been eighteen months old at this time and was, I’m sure, no help with our plotting and planning), and the baby brother who prompted the addition.

Well, we successfully sneaked past my parents that fateful first Christmas in our new house. (Now, after having been a mom myself, I have a mental picture of my mom and dad lying awake and listening to us tiptoe past). And for the next two eighteen-month cycles we added more babies, and we kept sneaking, and somehow my gullible parents never caught us.

You know, I don’t remember much about the gifts. We didn’t have much money, and the gifts weren’t grand, I do know that. I think that’s what Christmas is supposed to be about: fun, togetherness, joy. The spirit of the giving is important, but not what is given.

Remember that God is at the heart of your Christmas joy. The true spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit. And that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

Do you have any fun memories of childhood Christmases? Were you ever guilty of peeking at—or just carefully investigating—any of your presents?

Connect with Mary on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.


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Dare Riker is ready to move on from the war, preferably with Glynna Greer at his side—but someone dangerous is determined to stop him.

8 thoughts on “Memories of Christmas: Mary Connealy

  1. Oh, does that bring back memories! We also did the “get up horribly early and dive into the presents” thing. Yes, it was great fun! We had only four kids though, so not quite the chaos you must have had.

    But Mom and Dad were fabulous. Mom especially loved Christmas, and she’d pack BBs or jingle bells or anything that would rattle inside our packages so we would never have a clue about what was inside.

    One time my brother and I (we were the youngest) begged and begged her to tell us where the presents were just so we could look at them. Finally, in a weary voice, she said, “They’re under my bed.”

    We RAN into her room and only then remembered that Mom and Dad’s mattress and box springs were just on the floor. There was no “under” to the bed! Mom got a good laugh out of that. 😀

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Cute story, wonderful memories. Growing up, we got to open one present on Christmas Eve until we and our cousins were past Santa; then we opened all presents on Christmas Eve. Oh what joy to receive at least some of the requested gifts! Christmas at our house was almost too perfect, some would say! But, we loved it all and both Mama and Daddy always made it special.

  3. What a fun story, Mary. My siblings and I were never able to get to the tree before my mom – every time we snuck out to the living room – well, there she sat, drinking her coffee and grinning back at us:) Hope you have a very Merry Christmas this year.

    All the best,

    ~ Jen ~

  4. Pingback: Christmas Memory | Small Town Nebraska

  5. my favorite Christmas memory was the year my mom (single mom raising three kid – deadbeat dad), gave us toy equivalents of what she would give us if she had the money/ability. we were all teens. my younger brother got a toy pick-up with a motorcyle in the bed, i got a toy computer, and my older brother got a barbie (to represent the girlfriend my mom thought he was interested in).
    big bro wasn’t too tickled about the doll, although he appreciated the sentiment. we all donated the toys for underpriviledged kids (another mom idea that we thought was pretty cool). The thought of the notes mom attached to the gifts expressing her desire to give us our own heart’s desires still warms my heart.

  6. Pingback: Busy Mama » The Weekend Edition-The End is Near

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