Christmas is hands down, my absolute favorite holiday as well as my favorite day of the year. Yes, this day even bypasses my birthday. This day is about family and making memories.
When I was a child every Christmas Eve we would get dressed in our Christmas nicest, put on our fancy shoes and head off to church for the Christmas Eve Service. My favorite part of the service would be at the end when they handed out candles to the entire congregation, turned off all of the lights and we all sang Silent Night. My grandparents would usually come down every other Christmas and when everyone would start to sing I could always hear my Grandfather’s voice boom above everyone else’s. After he passed and the time would come to sing Silent Night I could still hear his voice above all the rest. That was always a great memory of mine.
After we got home we would read Christmas books by the tree and it was off to bed so that Santa could come with all our gifts. Christmas morning always gave me a warm tingly feeling and to this day I think still does.
I was always so particular with how the morning went, always wanting to keep it just how it was growing up. Even after I moved out of my parents house at the age of 20 I always came home, Christmas Eve. I didn’t always go to church by this age. I went to parties with my friends that would celebrate the night before unlike my own family who celebrated Christmas Day. But, I did make sure to make it back to my parents house to bunk in with my sister so we could wake up together and experience Christmas morning as we did when we were kids.
Fast forward several years, Kelci lives with Jose and I am with Glenn and Hunter. All of us sleeping at my parents house as well as my out-of-town family; my grandmother, my uncle and my aunt (who also happen to join us almost every Christmas) seems pretty ridiculous. So we have changed it up slightly. We wake up in our own homes and do our Christmas morning and Santa gifts (if we have Hunter). Afterward, we gather up the dogs, family gifts, OJ, and champagne (mimosas for everyone) and head over to my folks house usually no later than 9 AM.
My parents have always exchanged stuffed stockings and my mom still stuffs stockings for Kelci and I. After we finish with our stockings we proceed to open all the gifts under the tree. We sit around on the floor, take pictures and just enjoy each others company.
After every gift under the tree has been opened and all the wrapping paper has been tossed, my mom makes us a huge breakfast. We gather around the dining room table, sip on mimosas and coffee and munch on biscuits, bacon and whatever egg casserole my mom came up with that morning (it’s different every year).
As my sister and I clean up from breakfast, my dad goes outside to start up Christmas nights dinner in the smoker and my mother prepares the house for the evening’s dinner party. Every year we have the ENTIRE family over for dinner. There is a good 25+ of us so we’re pretty busy throughout the day getting ready for the evening’s festivities.
Though not much has changed over the years, next year’s Christmas is expected to be quite different. You see, the house my parents live in now will most likely not be the house they live in next year. That has been my family home since I was 10 years old. With Kelci and I out of the house and both of my parents retiring this year, it’s a lot of house for just the two of them. They plan on downsizing next year and purchasing something smaller and easier for them to maintain. This Christmas will be special but bittersweet. I just want to lavish in it and take it all in, in the house where I was raised. Though I am very into ‘not changing’ the traditions we have made in this house, I am excited to see what new traditions we will make in new homes and our expanding families in the years to come.
At the end of the day, it’s not the house where you gather that keeps families together and traditions going, it’s the people and the love that hold everything together.