Christina: Welcome back! I’m glad you have traveled safely and hope you continue to do so.
Cassie: Boy oh BOY does your family make candy…
Alexandra: Your Christmas sounds like it is going to be wonderful! Enjoy your travels. I vote Tardiness Amnesty : )
My family is a dynamic creature, and so are our holiday traditions. For Christmas, when I was young, we would all hop in the car about two weeks before Christmas and go pick out a tree. We would then take it home and decorate it with family-favorite ornaments to a soundtrack of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
On Christmas Eve, my mom’s parents would make the two-hour drive from Mom’s hometown to join us for Christmas Eve church service and Christmas the next day. That night, my sister and I would stay up late plotting a scheme that would get us to our presents without waking up Grandma and Papa, who slept in the room where the tree stood. We would have a hard time falling asleep and then wake up at quarter-till-too-damn-early in the morning, crawl around the house to our stockings, sneak back to open them in one or the other of our bedrooms, re-pack them, sneak back to the fireplace, and put our stockings back, to pretend we hadn’t opened them at all.
We would wait as long as we could possibly force ourselves to wait and then ever so gently awaken our parents by sneaking into their room and whispering, “Mom! Dad!” until we annoyed them enough to make them awake. Then we all went to where Grandma and Papa were waking up and opened presents. We had dinner at around noon, which was always (as per Papa’s insistence) a deli tray—a food variety that no self-respecting child should ever enjoy. Then we spent the rest of the day enjoying our presents and doing a whole lot of nothing.
We do things quite a bit differently these days. For one, we no longer put up a tree. Several years ago, we decided that it would be easier and just as fulfilling of Christmas tradition obligations just to cut a tree shape out of foamboard and decorate it with construction-paper replicas of favorite ornaments. It’s the best tree ever; we unfold it afresh every year and prop it up against the wall, no watering or pine-needle-stepping-on required. This year, we made a new construction paper replica of our advent calendar.
My family has liberalized quite a bit in recent years, not a little bit due to our lessened (for many of us, eliminated) religious inclinations. We no longer go to Christmas Eve church (or church at all). It is quite a relief to be part of a family that doesn’t guilt its members into going (though Grandma might, if she had her way).
My sister and I no longer connive over Christmas-morning-goings-on. We stay up late watching TV and sleep in, getting to presents when we’re good and ready to be awake. Most years, Mom and Dad are awake before one or both of us.
Dinner now happens at normal dinner time, 5 pm or later. And it consists of lasagna and garlic bread instead of a nasty deli tray (everything on those stupid things tastes like pickles anyway) and all our favorite accoutrements and desserts.
The only thing that really remains the same is that we spend the rest of the day enjoying our presents and each other, only it’s a whole lot better than it was when I was growing up.
So that’s my family Christmas “tradition.” A very Merry Christmas to you all!