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Adlen Robinson: Looking back on treasured Christmas memories
hot chocolate

Merry Christmas! I can hardly believe another Christmas is here and that 2020 is just around the corner. I love Christmas time and I love to spend time reflecting on past Christmas memories.

Growing up with three older brothers, I was definitely the one who lived for Christmas. We always had a fake Christmas tree and I began begging my mother and father to get it out even before Thanksgiving. 

While we always celebrated Christmas and always received plenty of gifts, my parents were not what you would consider “all in” about the whole holiday season. I remember my mother talking about how Christmas was “too commercial” among other things.

That being said, I couldn’t wait to be a Christmas fanatic, and I suppose that’s what I became as soon as I got married. Paul and I discussed how we could not wait to have children so we could introduce them to the magic of all things Christmas.

When we did have children, and we had our first child just one year after we married — and three more fairly quickly after that. We started many new traditions. We decorated early — the day after Thanksgiving. 

For a few years we had a fake tree, but when the kids begged for a real one, we quickly changed and bought a real tree every year. Soon we had both. A real tree for the family room, a fake tree in my office with my growing collection of Santa ornaments. 

There are other, small fake trees in the family room and even upstairs in the hallway. 

Our mantel is packed with lots of Nutcrackers — for years Paul bought me a new one each year. I even have an Army Nutcracker. He got me that one when our son was serving in the Army and couldn’t be home for Christmas for several years. One of my favorite Nutcrackers is the one my mother gave me when I was just 9 years old and danced in the ‘Nutcracker.’

I had a plan to buy each of our children a Christmas ornament every year. I tried to make it an ornament having something to do with each child’s particular interest/hobby at the time. My plan was to one day box up these ornaments and give them to our children. I still haven’t done that. They are probably more special to me than they are to the kids. Maybe one day I will relinquish them, but for now I hang them on the trees and think about the years gone by.

Of course baking and making homemade gifts from the kitchen was always a tradition. Some years I was so exhausted I forgot about baking Santa’s cookies until one of the kids reminded me — often on Christmas Eve. Somehow we managed to get the cookies baked and set them out for Santa.

We almost always made food for Santa’s reindeer — and one year we heard Santa on the roof.

We watched Christmas movies during the entire month of December — often watching our favorites two or three times.

Driving around looking at Christmas lights was always fun. Usually the kids had their pajamas on and were sipping on hot chocolate. Do you remember the Lake Lanier Islands lights? We loved going there and at the end of the light show visiting Santa’s village.

Probably our favorite Christmas tradition was Christmas Eve dinner. We let the kids choose three or four things they wanted to eat — basically making a snack-type of dinner. I also had to have a rule that the foods be actual food and not sugary treats. 

It was so cute to see how over the years their “favorite” foods changed and just how different their choices were. Sushi usually made the list on one or two kids. Beef sticks, cheese, French fries and even edamame were frequently requested. 

When they got a bit older, Paul had to drive them all over the place to various fast food places. In case you are wondering, we usually had some sort of surf and turf for our dinner after they were in bed. When they got much older, they asked to be included and enjoy what we were having.

My hope for all of you is that you are with your loved ones right now and you have a blessed Christmas! 

Merry Christmas to all!


South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at