Friday, December 23, 2011
When I was a child, my dad always cut down a fresh tree and we decorated a week before Christmas. When I got older, my younger sister and I trudged into the woods with him to help pick out a tree. Nowadays, I have an artificial tree and I decorate the Friday after Thanksgiving. Decorating is a lot of work and I put up quite a few. I'm just lazy enough to want to leave them up as long as possible before I have to go to all the trouble of un-decorating.
We used to go to my grandparent's house for Christmas Eve supper too. My dad's entire family would be there: Uncles, aunts, cousins, even some great aunts and uncles and cousins. The next morning, we'd go back for brunch. As my cousins married and started families of their own, fewer and fewer cousins were able to make it to my grandparent's house. After my younger sister and I got married and had children of our own, we started having Christmas Eve supper at my parents' house and going to my grandparent's the next morning. Even that changed as my children got older. Then my grandparents died, and the family stopped gathering.
Grandparents have a way of holding a family together for the holidays--until the grandchildren start having children of their own. Then a new generation of grandparents begin new traditions. Or so it seems in my family. I don't have grandchildren yet, but my oldest daughter lives in Germany.
Because of the six-hour time difference we now exchange gifts on Christmas Eve morning via SKYPE. After the gift exchange, my daughter runs off with her boyfriend to spend time with his family. My husband and I go to my cousin's house, where I once again see those aunts, uncles and cousins. And we go to my parents' house after lunch on Christmas Day. These days, I work a lot of Christmas mornings for half a day to allow those with children to be home for Santa Claus.
For years now, we've celebrated Christmas with my husband's family the week before Christmas in an effort to eliminate the stress of so many families trying to divide Christmas day into rushed visits. But now that my sister in law lives in Utah, we seldom see her any more.
Life changes and it's sometimes stressful. But Christmas isn't about the gifts or the dinners. It's about family and finding time to be with them and remember why we celebrate. So, no matter if your Christmas involves following time-honored traditions, creating new traditions of your own, or just trying to fit as many people into your plans as possible, take time to remember the reason we celebrate.