It’s become a tradition for the retail world that by October, Christmas décor is seen in many stores, including holiday music in the background.

I chuckled at a cute cartoon of the Thanksgiving turkey scolding Santa by saying, “November is my month! Go back to the North Pole until December 1st! In the background was a witch flying away on her broom.

But I don’t want to focus on the tradition that the retail world is in it just for the mighty dollar. Instead, I’d like to share some Christmas traditions when we raised our children and how the traditions change as we now enjoy our grandchildren.

What will not change is Christ is the meaning of Christmas, Jesus is the reason for the season, and Santa Claus helps to spread the true meaning of the holiday. It’s a joyous time that arrives faster every year as we age.

My husband, Ron, enjoys decorating the outside of our house with lights, carolers, deer, trees and snowflakes. He’s been doing it for over 40 years of which the last 17 years have been with me. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, the lights go up even during a snowstorm. We like to have the lights up before Thanksgiving, but they are not turned on until the day after turkey day. For over 10 years, we have also added music that flashes off and on to the rhythm of the holiday tunes.

While living in Willmar, cars would drive by slowly to admire the lights and music. To clarify, this is not a large display that attracts hundreds of cars that cause traffic jams in the neighborhood.

For the past eight years, very few cars come by as we live on a lake on a dead-end gravel road north of Brainerd. But all the decorations and music are now seen and heard by many of God’s creatures and a couple neighbors who survive the Minnesota winters as we do. If there were no neighbors, Ron would still put up the lighted décor.

Growing up as a child, we always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve. I don’t recall my parents ever bringing me to sit on Santa’s lap. He wasn’t a big part of our annual holiday. So when I became a mother, my three children believed in Santa, and we always paid him a visit so they could tell him what they wanted. With no fireplace, the jolly man still came to our home on Christmas Eve to leave gifts in or below their stockings. My youngest child, Tracy, told me years later when learned about Santa. She was with me when I bought an orange piggy bank, but on Christmas morning, she saw it in brother Troy’s stocking. That is when she knew, and to this day, I wonder why I purchased an ugly orange piggy bank as a stocking gift!

While my kids were still in elementary and high school, Troy and Tracy would use a sharp letter opener to slice the tape on the wrapped gifts under the tree. They opened their gifts, when no one else was home, and carefully rewrapped them so mom and dad would never know. They were good actors, as when the gifts were opened on Christmas Eve, they acted very surprised and happy. I first heard of that prank years after they were out of high school.

Santa was also popular with Ron’s two children as they were growing up. After dinner on Christmas Eve, his wife would tell him to take the two children and drive around town to look at the many homes decorated for the holiday. Her reason not to go was that she would clean up the kitchen. While they were gone, their mother put all the gifts under the tree. Ron and the kids would pick her up later and they completed the tour of lights. Arriving home, they discovered that Santa left the gifts under the tree.

Today, as grandparents, we spoil and buy the grandchildren the noisiest toys and watch their excitement during the Christmas celebration.

I love the role of Grandma, aka “Nana!” Recently, I saw a card that said, “Blessed are those who spoil and snuggle, hug and hope, pray and pamper, for they shall be called grandparents!”