I grew up with simple Christmases. A few little gifts, lunch with my parents and maybe my oldest brother’s family, and a lazy day of lying around the house watching old Christmas movies or football.
Christmas of 1997 that all changed. The first year my husband and I were dating, I decided to spend Christmas with his family. We spent the entire day of Christmas Eve going from one store to the next and that night wrapping all of our finds. Christmas morning, we ripped through gifts and then sat in mounds of wrapping paper and boxes while his dad made everyone pancakes.
Then, the mad rush began. Six adults in one house began to run around to quickly get dressed and ready for the day’s activities. Lunch at one grandmother’s house with the family and dinner at the other grandmother’s with all seven brothers and their families.
It was overwhelming and exciting all at the same time. Later in the evening when my mom called to wish us a Merry Christmas I remarked, “I didn’t know people had Christmases like this.”
But that was to become my Christmas tradition for the next nine years. The last couple years, I began to prepare the family for the change that was about to come. With the birth of our first son in 2003, I began to long again for the quiet Christmas at home, and it was time to begin our own family traditions.
Even my husband, who had always been home on Christmas morning, wasn’t sure about the change we made three years ago. I assured him that it was time to let our then 3-year-old wake up in his own bed and open gifts under his own tree.
That first Christmas Eve, Samuel and I finished up a little shopping and baking. After a quiet dinner at home, Samuel opened his Christmas Eve gift, a tradition in my family that my husband has learned to appreciate. Later that night, we attended our church’s Christmas Eve service, a program we had never attended before.
Early the next morning, we woke to Samuel joining us in bed where we played and talked before making our way to the tree. As we sat in its soft glow, my husband read the story of Jesus’ birth as recorded in Luke. Then the three of us enjoyed opening gifts from each other and spent the morning playing with all of the new toys. Later in the evening, Kevin’s family joined us for dinner – the first Christmas meal I had ever prepared by myself.
It was a perfect Christmas. Over the last couple of years, we have begun to develop a few other Christmas traditions just within our small family. I hope that some of these traditions our boys will continue in their own families, but I know that some will give way to their wives’ traditions and others that they will develop on their own.