Growing up Christmas was never just one day. There was the season of Christmas; Advent in our Church. On Christmas Eve we would have dinner with our neighbor and then we would all go to Church for the service of Lessons and Carols. Back at home after the service there was hot chocolate while we hung up our stockings.
But Christmas did not end the next morning. My parents made it a day-long event. We could unpack our stockings before breakfast. However, presents weren’t opened until after we were dressed and had consumed a hearty breakfast that would last us until dinner later that afternoon.
And then there was Boxing Day. The day after Christmas, (or at least sometime during the holiday break from school), we would get together with friends that were part of the family. My sister’s Godparents were another “aunt and uncle” to us, and they had two kids our age. We would go to their house for the day. We children would play together. There would be a shared meal. Family gifts were exchanged. Christmas went on all week.
My husband and I have no children of our own and I tend to think that we have no Christmas traditions. Upon reflection, that is not entirely true. When we were first married my niece and nephew were quite small; 18 months and three, respectively. My nephew’s birthday is New Year’s Eve. So with various in-laws among my siblings, and a birthday we wanted to celebrate, we would spend Christmas with my husband’s family and New Year’s with mine.
The children are grown now. My niece is married with children of her own. My father passed away almost 20 years ago. My sister and her husband are like us, no children, but plenty of family and friends with whom to celebrate. We now alternate between families. One year we are with my mother, the next with my in-laws. It works well. Whoever we don’t see on Christmas we visit later in the week; sometimes for New Year depending on how the calendar falls and schedules work out.
In addition to family, there are get-togethers with various friends. We celebrate our own Christmas together after the rush of travel and the many different gatherings of family and friends. Christmas is a week-long event for us.
My mother reminds us annually that there are twelve days to Christmas. That Christmas is not over until January 6. In our tradition, mine and my husband’s, this seems to be very, very true.Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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