Not gonna lie, interwebs. I really love the Christmas season.
When I was single, I was really bitter about Christmas, and that had a lot to do with my own happiness in relationships. The first Christmas I truly enjoyed as an adult was the one where I took Captain Laser Pants to meet my family. That was the weekend I knew I wanted to marry him. Since then, the holiday has become more joyful than I could expect (with a little family stress here and there- the act of traveling is such a pain!), largely because I have two incredible loves in my life with whom I can share the season. Decorating for Christmas is a spiritual gift in my family (you should see my mom’s tree and my sisters’ trees!), and I have to confess that I take part in it. Pictures don’t do my tree justice. This year it’s a six foot- wide, over eight foot- tall Fraser fir (real, of course), and because it’s smaller than last year’s tree, is now dripping with ornaments. The collection of German blown glass ornaments (the ones that inspire thoughts of Christmases from 75 years ago) is ever growing. We have everything from robots and hot dogs to more traditional balls and Santa Claus-esque ornaments. I love it.
After fussing with the tree for days (it has over 1200 lights on it, for crying out loud), I felt like I had to start a hundred other holiday projects. Neighbor gifts (we like our neighbors a lot), Christmas cookie baking and decorating, planning gifts, making memories- but it felt forced. “Now we must read Night Before Christmas and sit in front of the fireplace and drink hot chocolate and sing carols!” As if one can force the making of precious Christmas memories. Silly me.
Team Gwinn has some traditions that we’ve put in place for our own little family, including watching Elf and buying new family ornaments with a theme every year (the first year was robots, the second was dinosaurs, and this year was a family of foxes [four were included!]). My own family is steeped in tradition. Every year we all get together at my parents’ house for Christmas Eve, read the Christmas story from the Bible, open presents, and eat some of the redonkulously good cookies my sister and mom make. They’ve always had an upstairs tree (think pastels with Victorian ornaments) and a downstairs tree (colored lights, ornaments the siblings made over the years as kids), lights on the hedges outside their house, and candles in the windows. Regardless of what we were given, even when times were tight, some of my happiest memories from growing up are wrapped in Christmas.
Needless to say, I’m pretty darn traditional when it comes to this particular holiday. I love going to carol sings and candlelight services at churches, hearing choirs, and sipping eggnog by a fire.More importantly, though, is the tradition surrounding the core family. I’m really protective of Christmas morning with my husband and child. Unless there’s a fire or flood, I always go to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. Call me crazy, but I feel like traditions are part of the glue of a family. And when you finally have your own, it’s even more important to have traditions that are yours (largely so if you grew up without a core family or traditions) to pass on to your children.
Even though he was too small last year to help, one of the traditions we’re working on building in Team Gwinn is having mini Gwinn assist with the tree decorating. Letting him choose from the shatterproof (read: plastic and stuffed) ornaments and then asking him where they should go- totally precious. Yes, there may be seventeen ornaments on one branch, but that’s his branch that he decorated. And hearing him yell “twee! Wights!” when he wakes up and runs to the tree? Heart melting. This is his last year as the only little one in the home, so I want to make memories (saved with pictures, cause I doubt he’ll retain them from this age) with him at the center. He wants to try making cookie dough? Go for it. Stringing lights on the tree? You betcha. He really enjoys looking at the Christmas lights, which means a few night excursions to see what the neighbors have in their yards. Maybe a ‘hood tour with some eggnog and Christmas carols playing in the car will be another Gwinn tradition. Who knows.
What do you and your family/families do for the holidays? I would love to hear about your traditions!