Christmas without Tradition

Christmas Tradition. In our family, this meant waking up early on Christmas morning. My sister and I were “in charge” of making sure everyone was up at a decent time. We certainly couldn’t wait forever to dive into those gifts! Mom would start the coffee and the music, and Dad would make sure we brushed our teeth. When everyone was ready, we’d start the gift opening with the stockings that always hung over the fireplace. Once we finished with the stockings, we’d take turns opening our gifts that sat under the tree.

Once all the gifts were opened, we’d eat breakfast, clean up, and get ready to head out for the day. Someone would make sure the “dish to pass” was prepared and ready to go. We’d grab the exchange gifts and load them in the car, and then we would head out for our Grandparent’s house, where the whole family would gather for a big Christmas pot-luck. At my Grandparent’s house, we would eat lunch once everyone arrived, enjoy the traditional Christmas cookies, and then we would open our exchange gifts. We have a large family, so we’ve been doing gift exchanges for a long time to avoid having to buy gifts for everyone. After the gift-opening, people would mill around, some would leave to go to other sides of the family for their Christmas celebration, and everyone would enjoy the time with the family together.

The tradition has evolved somewhat over the years, as many of the cousins have gotten older, headed off to college, gotten married, and in general have other things going on. However, despite some of the changes over the years, the general tradition has been very similar. Some members of the family would inevitably miss the gathering, but for the most part, things have been the same for many years. This year, however, it’s my turn to miss the family celebration.

My husband and I moved out of state this year, and we do not have the time or the money to fly back home for Christmas. This year, we’re celebrating Christmas with our very small family (the two of us, and our two dogs). This is a huge change for both of us because we both come from large families. We’re used to being surrounded by people on Christmas. We’re used to being busy from the moment we wake up. Today, our plans are very, very different. And I’m not sure I mind all that much. I miss my family, and I’m sad we can’t celebrate with them. But, I’m also relieved that I don’t have to make anything to take anywhere. We don’t have to worry about getting to my family’s Christmas, and then hustling over to my husband’s family Christmas. Our plans today are simple: enjoy being with each other. And honestly, I don’t feel hypocritical celebrating a holiday for a religion that I do not actually consider myself a part of because, well, other than the fact that we’re both off work today, we’re not really celebrating.

I am currently writing this post while I’m working, actually. I agreed to take on the daily skeleton duties over Christmas because I have no other plans anyway. When I’m done here, I’m going to head home to enjoy stew and biscuits with my husband. I plan on making some cookies. Maybe we’ll watch a movie. I’d like to take our dogs to the park since it’s such a nice day. Plus, it snowed last night and they love running around in it. That’s about it. We have no plans of exchanging gifts with each other. We’ve gotten a box from my Grandmother and one from my husband’s parents. We’re expecting a package from my family, but won’t get it until after Christmas. We didn’t set up a tree, didn’t decorate at all, neither of us had to deal with Christmas shoppers or the mall. It’s actually been kind of nice. We managed to avoid a lot of the stress I’ve always felt around Christmas when I’ve had to find gifts for people who are difficult to shop for, during a time when everyone is equally as stressed and busy as I am.

So, as I’m off to enjoy my little celebration of a day off of work for both of us, I hope you and your family are celebrating however you enjoy celebrating Christmas. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, that’s OK. Enjoy the day almost everything stops, sit back, relax, and do whatever it is you love to do. Happy Holidays!

About Jamie Schwoerer

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