I read a list of personal holiday fun facts on Amy Wallace’s blog and that got me thinking about the different traditions that families have–namely mine. We always opened presents on Christmas morning, after waiting on my parents to wake up and get ready (which took forever). Then my dad would read the Christmas story (which would somehow become the longest passage of Scripture ever). Then we’d pray. And then we’d finally start by looking in our Christmas stockings. Even if I would have chosen to speed things along–I liked the predictability of knowing how we celebrate Christmas. And I still like the familiar feelings I experience every year.
The first Christmas that Jeff and I spent alone together, we talked about a way to start a new tradition that would be for our family. Since my family often spent most of Christmas Day in the kitchen preparing the meal, I decided we would have our special Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. I spent my time in the kitchen on Christmas Eve, then decorated our table with candles and everything, and then we had a beautiful meal together. (And then I think we watched It’s a Wonderful Life–can’t remember.) And we decided that for our little family, that’s our new tradition. Since then we’ve done that even when my family has come to spend Christmas with us in Colorado and it’s been great.
Now I’m thinking of new traditions because of Ashtyn. Christmas is just somehow extra special when kids are involved. And I’m wondering what I want her to remember about Christmas at our house. I want all the regular Christmas things for her: cookies and hot chocolate with marshmallows and turkey and stuffing and presents and Christmas music. But what else?
There’s one Christmas from my childhood that I’ve never forgotten. I think it was Christmas Eve actually. I remember our family climbing into our car (it was probably a minivan) and driving somewhere in downtown Conroe to a very small house that we’d never been to before. Then we all got out and my parents carried bags of food and a turkey into the house. I remember walking into this house, and realizing that the living room was empty. No furniture. And going into the kitchen where my parents were talking with the family, and seeing one lawn chair. I remember the family being so nice and my parents talking with them as though they’d been friends for a long time, even though I was quite sure I’d never seen them before and we hadn’t been friends before that moment. And after that night, I don’t think we ever saw them again. But I remember how I felt, leaving the house and feeling so relieved that now that family had plenty of food to eat on Christmas. And the compassion that my parents had demonstrated (and therefore taught us) without having to say anything to me and my sister. I remember the door opening and people smiling when we arrived. And I’ve never ever forgotten that night or how it made me feel.
I know whatever traditions that our little family begins, I want Ashtyn to experience moments like that. The kind of moments that stay with you and help you become who you need to be.
Christmas. The time when magical things happen. I love it.