I am really big on traditions. I hold them near and dear to my heart and consider it my personal duty to protect them. Now that I have a child, I want to establish some Christmas traditions for him. I can’t predict whether or not he’ll care for them as I do, but I want to make sure they are there for his memories of Christmas.
Before I was married, I only had to worry about one family: mine. I liked that. You see, I really like my family. They (we) are all weird in our own very wonderful ways. I feel warm and comfortable when I’m around them.
We sort of cheat and have all of our big celebrations on Christmas Eve. At lunch, my mom’s side of the family comes together for a Thanksgiving meal, part 2, but replace turkey with ham. SInce we built our new house, this celebration has been here. I like that. I like playing hostess and making memories right here under my roof. There are about 20 of them. They’re all pretty country. All the women wear (except me–I’m not joining THIS club) their overly bedazzled and tacky Christmas sweaters and my grandfather and uncles sit around waiting to be served making various inappropriate comments. Sure, it’s kind of annoying, but it says Christmas to me and I roll with it. Since I was old enough to read, I’ve read the Christmas story to everyone. I still do it every year. Then, we open gifts, visit for a while and everyone goes home late in the afternoon.
But, the fun’s not over yet. My younger brother (Jason) is a chef and my older brother (Chad) might as well be. After a rest, they descend upon the kitchen at my parents house and make a dinner that is NOTHING like Thanksgiving. It’s never the same, but it is always amazing. We eat off of good china and we toast the holiday with good wine. After dinner, there’s no rush. Jason makes homemade egg nog with a kick. We drink that while Chad plays Christmas songs on his guitar. We sing (and most of us aren’t singers) until we’ve gone through both of our songbooks and the requests for favorites have ended. Chad always sings the last song “Santa Claus is Back in Town” by Elvis. He rocks it out, sings it loud and we all cheer! Then, we give each other gifts. We go around the room opening one at a time and extending appropriate thanks and hugs to the gift-giver. We usually finish up sometime around 11. Then, we stay up and try on clothes, try out gifts, play Cranium and then go to sleep early Christmas morning. To me, that is my Christmas.
I don’t need more, but with marriage comes new family, new responsibilities and a process of assimilation where traditions are concerned. I don’t feel warm and comfortable around Jeff’s family. Around them, I am the in-law, the outsider. And, now there’s Carter. Last year he was just 4 months old and didn’t really get it, but it was his first Christmas so everyone made a big deal. Mike and Ruth came to my family’s Christmas Eve dinner so that they could see Carter get some gifts for the first time, and I was ok with that being that it was a momentous occasion. But, like I said, I’m really protective over my Christmas traditions. Sunday Ruth brought up Christmas Eve. She was sort of assuming that they’d come over and do Christmas Eve with my family again. I’m not at all a confrontational person and I have a tough time getting anything out of my mouth that might hurt someone’s feelings, but I dug deep and told her that I’d like to establish a separate Christmas tradition with them starting this year. I could tell by her face that she didn’t like that, but her words at least said otherwise. Normally, we go to my aunt’s house on Christmas Day for brunch (consisting of various sausage-filled, bacon wrapped, cheese coated items), which I also really love doing. But, I offered to give it up to establish something with them. This will be the first year that we have brunch at Nana and PaPa’s. Then, we have Christmas early evening with the Presley’s and the Tate’s in Anderson. It will be fine and I’m going to try my best to make it special to me and special for Carter. I know my attitude with ultimately affect his attitude, so it’s important that I make the effort and get outside the “me, me, me, my family” box.
Also, there’s the issue of Santa. Santa always came to my house when I was young. I don’t remember the age when I discovered the ugly truth about the jolly ol man in red, but I don’t remember it being a big deal. I still got presents from Mom and Dad, so I played along for my little brother. Now I have to decide if I want to create the fantasy for Carter. I personally think that it is harmless. I think that there’s nothing wrong with letting “the spirit of Christmas/Santa/giving” play out in a fun scenario on Christmas morning through Mom and Dad. I just don’t want Carter to ever feel like I’ve lied to him or for him to feel hurt that something he held dear to heart was never real. Does anyone have any Santa advise or strong feelings on the matter one way or the other?