I feel it a little bit more every Christmas.....and I have to admit that I'm double minded about it all.....part of me welcomes the changes and part of me mourns the loss of Christmas's Past. It happens to all of us.....that sense that things are changing.
The first time I remember experiencing that double mindedness regarding Christmas was when I realized I would be marrying David. I looked at his family traditions and then at my own...and of course, I liked mine the best....our family Christmas's were mostly spent with just our parents and us kids....Military folks are usually miles and miles away from their extended family at the holidays and for us, that was just the way it was. I never missed a large family Christmas because I never really had one...Christmas to me meant spending the Eve part of it at church then home for hot chocolate or eggnog and then all of us kids sleeping in the same room (or trying to). Christmas day was spent re-connecting with my siblings and my parents and reflecting on the meaning of the day. And there was never a gift opened prior to Christmas morning in our house no matter how much the children may have begged!
David's family was also military...also used to spending Christmas alone with just each other, but two of the four kids were married and in different states by the time we met (while only our Kevin was out of our house)....and their celebration of the holiday had slowly evolved into gift opening on Christmas Eve and sleeping in late on Christmas Day and everyone taking off in different directions after the meal. Discussions with David about earlier Christmas traditions revealed that he didn't have the same feeling about the holiday as did I.
In any event, we had to merge our holidays into new traditions that would make both of us happy and our family's....it took a while but we succeeded..I overcame the sadness I felt at the loss of those long lazy Christmas days with my siblings and my parents and embraced the still long but less lazy ones of my adult life. After the children were born we spent Christmas Eve at his parents house and Christmas Day at our own...with an open door policy that allowed anyone who wanted to to just let us know they'd be there for dinner and/or dessert! Most Christmas's saw me cooking dinner for more than 20 people...and as different as it was from my childhood Christmas's, I loved it.
Just like my parents and David's parents, we find ourselves now in that time of life where our traditions are being evaluated and are slowly evolving into the ones our now adult children and adult nieces and nephews will spend with their own families. No more Christmas Dinners for 20 plus people at our house....now its more like 9 who gather around the table. The two or three tables that used to be decorated with candles and evergreens and reflective balls and place settings have evolved into one with a buffet and folks grabbing a seat where ever their fancy takes them. And although I find that it is much less work for me and that I actually get to spend some time relaxing during the day, I have moments of sadness for Hunter who doesn't really even remember those full house Christmas's.....
I temper the sadness with hope that comes from watching my little sister and her feelings for Christmas's past.....our parents divorced shortly after David and I were married. Amy's Christmas's were much different then the ones Kirk, Kevin and I remember. But, Amy's Christmas memories involve those dinners at my house for oodles and oodles of folks.....her memories, though different from my childhood memories, are just as important and special to her.....as Hunter's will be as special to him as the old way of doing it is for Nikki and Dallas....and me.
Today, my sister Amy, 14 years younger then me, is the one with the little ones and soon, she'll have to begin the transition from Christmas's at my house to ones she hosts herself. Dragging small children away from their gifts will begin to wear on her and Darrin and they will want to stay in their home - they will begin finding traditions that include the best of her family and Darrin's family merging into their own style of doing it. And then, there are Nikki and Dallas who will marry and begin their own family's in the next few years........
I am...well double minded...part of me looks forward to arriving all dressed up fresh from a shower to sit down at a table someone else decorated while part of me will miss the hustle and the bustle of preparing the tables and the treats that make folks go "oooooh" when they walk into the house. Our Christmas traditions are evolving......and as I decorate our house for the celebration this year, I find myself reflecting on that evolution.
One thing won't change though...there won't be a gift opened until Christmas morning - no matter how much David begs!