December always makes me think of family and traditions.
I have two favorite holiday traditions:
The first, is decorating the Christmas tree while listening to Christmas music. In our family each child gets an ornament from their parents and maternal grandparents. That means that each year of my life I received at least two ornaments, and now my kids get the same. Once my husband and I got married, my mom included a ‘couples’ ornament and an ornament for my husband in the mix. If you do the math, you’d realize that upon getting married, I already had enough ornaments to fill a slender tree, now – we have enough ornaments to fill a good sized tree.
Each ornament that goes on our tree tells a story, holds a memory, speaks of that time in our lives. From the papier mache’ ornament from 1978 to the lace angel from 1983 to the silver wreath “First Christmas Together” ornament from 2001, our lives – year-to-year – our stories are told when you look at the ornaments on our tree.
As a child, I didn’t understand how important a tradition this ornament gifting was; from the selection of the ornaments, to the presentation of them. Now, as a mom, I see and understand and am grateful for this tradition.
The second tradition that I love is how we open gifts on Christmas Day. I truly am one who enjoys giving more than receiving. I love the search for the right gift, or the work of making it myself, choosing that thing that I think will make that person light up and gasp and know that I love them. Don’t get me wrong, I love to get gifts *wink, wink* I just enjoying giving them, more.
In our family, we wake up and get to see what Santa brought, we share the treasures and ooh and aah and then we straighten up and get breakfast made. We eat breakfast around a table lit by candles, we pray and talk and laugh and share, we remember those we’ve lost and say a prayer of gratitude for those still with us.
After breakfast, Santa’s elves (aka the younger members of the family who can read) put each person’s presents at their designated spot in the family room. Then, starting with the youngest member, each person opens one present while everyone else watches. This gives everyone a chance to see what it is and it puts the receiver and the giver in the spotlight. It gives the giver the chance to see the joy and delight and surprise in the receiver’s face and allows the receiver’s reaction to be as much of a Thank You as the words themselves.
Sometimes this can take an hour, sometimes two and yet, while the presents are being opened time flies, nobody is bored, everyone is involved and time sort of suspends itself so that we can just experience the togetherness, the joys, the laughter, the silliness – the love.