So the fabulous husband and I were bickering today about the encroachment of the holiday season. I tend to smush (nice English teacher word there) together Thanksgiving and Christmas into one big month-long celebration of eating and decorating and gift-giving. I mean I remember the "Reason for the Season", but still how important is it to celebrate Christmas on December 25, when we know technically that's not even really Jesus's birthday ( I mean, at least, that's what Wikipedia told me...) ?
As a child and grandchild of divorce, this extended holiday was a necessity and, frankly, a treat. Three or four Thanksgivings, three or four Christmases, a veritable smorgasbord (yep! English teacher strikes again) of toys and turkeys and the "gimmies". My parents worked odd shifts at both the phone company and the hospital, so it was not unusual at all to celebrate Christmas the week before or the week after with some section of the extended family. In fact I've always aligned the familial celebration of Christmas with the Jewish tradition of Hanukkah (minus the potato latkes, dreidels and menorahs)- eight crazy nights of good times.
In college I worked at a pharmacy that was obliged to be open on Christmas Day (you know for all the sick people, and the people wanting to get a jump on the after Christmas markdowns on cheap off-brand candy and Christmas lights). I usually worked Christmas Day. After all, my parents usually worked, so it wasn't that big of a deal. And the triple time pay (which meant I could bring in over $20 an hour for sitting around playing Trivial Pursuit) was truly irresistible for a college student making rent and car payments). My mom, whom I love dearly and think is the best mom ever, always said Christmas Day was "just another day." Not in a sacrilegious way, more in a pragmatic, unsentimental way. Endearing, really. And I am inclined to agree with her.
Being raised in a secular home, it's no surprise that little attention was paid to the whole Jesus's birthday aspect of Christmas ( I know some of you will be gasping or praying or shaking your head at the very heathen notion of a Christmas without Jesus, well just wait till I get to blog about Easter- you are really gonna flip your lid). Sadly, some habits, while I'm not proud to admit it, die hard and I often have to remind myself that Christmas is not just about Santa and getting all the gifts I want and having Petey the Elf out do his mischievous deeds every night.
But the question remains. Does the day of celebration really matter?
My family is not one made up of traditions. Again this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think in a way it has made me a pretty flexible person, but in other ways it has made me terribly inflexible- a complete contradiction, I know. We just did things whenever the times worked out. Of course, I was dealing with multiple family gatherings- my maternal grandmother, my fraternal grandparents, my maternal grandfather, and my stepdad's mother. On the other hand, aforementioned husband came from a family with traditions passed down from year-to-year. His was a much smaller, non-fractured family- literally both sides of the family gathered together under one to celebrate. This would have been unheard of in my family, unless we wanted someone to die ;)
They relish in family time, while in my family it was always a big pain in the butt or a point of contention. They keep the same stockings from year to year, and exchange ornaments each year. They celebrate on Christmas, preferably all day. At first I was very resistant to this. I'm not sure why. It's not like I was doing anything else! I was insistent that we were going to make our own traditions and celebrate "our" way. But as we get ready celebrate our seventh Christmas as a married couple (WHAT!?!?!?), I've come to discover, and appreciate, that our traditions are these traditions- even my own non-traditional traditions. We still run all over God's green Earth at all kinds of random times (Sunday before Christmas? Check. Christmas Eve morning breakfast? Check.), then we celebrate Christmas morning at home- just our little family with Santa's gifts and our presents to each other, and finally we cap off Christmas day at my in-laws for an afternoon of food and fellowship and "traditional" Christmas.
Skinny Jeans~ Kohl's
Boots~ Old Navy
Tank~ Old Navy
Belt~ New York and Co.
Each year we create our own traditions in the interpretations of our past. We adjust and expand. We are flexible and inflexible. We love and we are loved. We celebrate Christmas as a family- in our own special way.