Christmas Traditions


Old Traditions

Growing up, my Christmas traditions were...semi-traditional. We would have a family Christmas party the week before Christmas at my uncles house in North Carolina for my mom's side. It was the guaranteed one time of the year where I got to see my cousins, my Grandma, and my Uncle Billy (my grandmothers brother who was sort of my surrogate grandfather growing up). It often involved Lasagna or Turkey Burgers. My Baptist preacher dad and Presbyterian elder uncle would get into heated theological debates, my brothers would play sega genesis, and my cousin Janet would get teased for having a different boyfriend with her each year.

Then on Christmas Eve we would drive up to Virginia to my grandparents house. They lived in that house our entire lives, we even lived next door to them when I was really little. It is the one thing that never changed. It would be decorated the same every year and there would be piles of presents (hey we were the only grandkids on that side). Our tradition was to open our gifts on Christmas Eve. I don't know how that got started (parents couldn't say no?) but I loved it. Convincing my parents it was time after dinner, passing out the gifts, sitting around taking turns so you got to see what everyone got. I had a tradition of organizing my pile to take my annual photograph of what I got. I still do that even though I've since realized it's kind of ridiculous.

Christmas day was relaxed. Everyone slept in, there were stockings waiting for us full of goodies, and later in life there was a tradition of going to the movies with my dad that formed after my my brothers weren't there on Christmas day anymore.

It was always just us...our little family unit...spending time together. And I thought it was wonderful. I loved Christmas. I got excited all of November and December trying to think of what to ask for. One time we even had a white Christmas.

New Traditions

My grandparents on that side have passed away, my brothers have been dividing their time between their spouses families and ours for years, my husband works most holidays and I live ten hours away from my family. Getting home to see them, and at a time that works for everyone, is increasingly difficult. I won't get to be with my family at Christmas this year and John Paul and I also chose not to do gifts this year (with a couple exceptions). 

As jobs change and kids come our traditions will change. But I have to say I still like the spirit of this holiday. I love gift giving. I love baking and spending time with family. It doesn't bother me anymore to not receive gifts or to go without certain things. I miss my family but I love my new family as well.

I know this is a season met with a lot of varied emotions. Some get depressed because of things lost or things that were never there. Some are cynical about all the materialism and stress that Christmas brings with it. Some go overboard trying to make it more magical than maybe it really is and others obsess over making sure it's exactly a certain way. Yet, I still feel that it is what you make it.

Find the good, make your own traditions, be okay when traditions change, but enjoy the holiday for what it excuse to be together, an excuse to focus on the good things in your life and spread that happiness to others. Whether you are spending Christmas alone, with your spouse, or with your entire family...find some joy in creating new traditions for yourself or being content with where ever you are.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

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