Christmas Traditions

This Christmas season, the common theme I am seeing is change. The Christmas gatherings that are on our agenda each year have all seemed to change formats. As I get older, I am realizing that this is inevitable. Life happens and we all have to make adjustments to make things work. For my immediate family on my dad's side (dad, stepmom, sister, stepsister, and nephew) we made the switch three years ago. In an effort to save everyone from trying to squeeze in all the Christmas gatherings on either Christmas Eve or Christmas day, we decided to break from the pack and declare an early Christmas celebratory weekend. This has worked out great. This year it is extra early and Kels and I will be packing up the ol' 4-wheel-drive sleigh and heading to my dad's Dec. 10-12. This allows us to spend quality family time together without having to worry about each of us heading out right after opening gifts to get to the next destination. Growing up my time with my dad for Christmas was basically arriving late on Christmas Eve, sleeping, getting up early to open presents, then leaving to head to my mom's before noon on Christmas Day.

We have always gotten everyone of the family members a gift, but this year we are drawing names and set a limit. Simpler is better. It's not about the gifts, but about the time we spend together.

Other changes:

  • Since I can remember, Christmas Eve has been spent at my mom's parents' house. This year was different. We celebrated Christmas at the end of October before they headed to Texas for the winter. Last year did them in. There was a terrible storm as they tried to make it home for Christmas and they had had enough. We also used to give gifts to everyone at this gathering, but this year we bucked tradition and started something new: a white elephant gift exchange with a traveling snow globe to the winner of the ugly sweater contest. The innagural winner was Kels.
  • Kels and I are getting ready to sell our house so we chose not to put up any Christmas decorations this year. It has left us struggling to realize Christmas is right around the corner and with no snow on the ground it is even more difficult.

I guess I always wondered when these traditions would morph into something new. When did my parents stop going to their grandparents' houses for Christmas? Change is inevitable as the dynamics of each family changes, but I just hope that everyone remembers the true reason for the season. It's not about putting up a Christmas tree and buying things for people that they don't need. We just need to focus on the birth of Jesus and celebrating his birthday. I am pretty sure Mary and Joseph didn't take time to set up a Christmas tree in the barn before they gave birth to the Savior of the world.