When I was a little girl, we had a fancy dinner cooked by my Mom on Christmas Eve and another fancy dinner cooked by my Mom on Christmas Day. It never failed that our dishwasher would break down and ALLLLLL those dishes would have to be hand washed. By the end of the holiday, sometimes before the end of it, she was pissed off and exhausted. It was always my Dad’s fault, whether it was or not, although usually it was because for example, on the years that he actually got her a gift, it was ordinarily something fab like a set of pans. I decided a long time ago that when I grew up, Christmas was going to be different.
My family and I do the standard putting up of the tree the day after Thanksgiving. I like to have the house decorated completely by the end of that weekend so I don’t have to worry about it and can enjoy the season. I make lots of cookies over the ensuing weeks, but I like baking. My shopping is usually done by the second week of December because again, I learned from my elders and I want to enjoy the season.
This year, my daughter was in a Christmas band concert which was fun and my husband was travelling a lot, so we didn’t do as many “Christmas-y” things as we usually do, but it was still nice and relaxing. My son had his Christmas Cub Scout pack meeting, which included Santa and a cake raffle, which sent us home with a cake. Again, low-key, but fun. The week before Christmas, we went to the Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park near Cincinnati, Ohio and looked at the beautiful flowers and plants and Christmas displays and visited the Crib of the Nativity located on the premises.
I have been going to this Crib my whole life. There are no longer live shepherds standing guard, but there are still sheep and they still wear big bells that clank in that certain way that sounds like Christmas to me. The inside of the display is beautiful. It is a typical Nativity scene, but there is a live donkey and a live cow. It is peaceful, it is quiet. It reminds you what Christmas is all about.
On Christmas Eve, we have our parents over for dinner. We only have the Moms now, but that’s ok. I make a ham and a few side dishes. The table looks pretty, I have lots of candles and Christmas lights around the house, so it looks pretty too. We eat dinner and then have cookies and peppermint hot fudge sundaes for dessert. After dinner, my kids open their gifts from my husband’s side of the family and we sit around and talk for a little while until my husband takes the Grandmas home. After that, we get the kids to bed once Santa gets into the US. We track him on NORAD you know. My son sleeps on the floor in my daughter’s room. They talk and bond and all is good. Santa comes and the next morning everyone is happy.
I purposely don’t overdo the “Martha Stewart” stuff at Christmas and I very easily could, I’m crafty and arty and design-y, but I’d rather my family have happy Christmases. I don’t want my kids to feel awkward because someone (their mom) is overworked and exhausted. That is not what Christmas is for. On the big day, my husband goes and picks up my mom who lives literally three minutes away, we open gifts, have a nice breakfast, most of which I prepare in advance, and then we have a jammy day. The kids play with their new stuff or sort new clothes or whatever they choose to do. I usually read one of my new books and my husband floats between all of us looking at what is going on. It is peaceful. It is quiet and happy. Mom goes home around one or two in the afternoon, and we continue with what we were doing. This year we watched /Annie Get Your Gun/ and we snacked. I don’t make a big dinner. I make sure to have lots of yummy snack stuff and we graze. It’s fun. We are all relaxed. We are all happy together. Nobody gets mad.
If you find that your Christmas is not making you happy, step back a bit and find a thing or two you can do without and get rid of it. It’s not about everything being perfect. It’s about everyone being together. It’s about everyone being happy and relaxed and remembering that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus. It doesn’t matter if He was born in June or October or on December 25th. That’s when we celebrate it. Enjoy the quiet of Christmas Eve. Wonder at the stillness of the night. Try to make it, so that when you are an old person and the Ghost of Christmas Past takes you on a journey, you won’t see any sad, distressing scenes, but rather you will see pictures of a happy family spending time together.
God Bless Us Everyone 🙂