In our house today begins Second Christmas – that “new tradition” for so many families who have started over. My boys spent Christmas with their Dad, and are travelling south to be with me over the weekend.
And on Christmas I cooked dinner for my beloved’s children this year, for the very first time! (Children= young adults they’re all in their 20s!)
It has been a time of mixing old and new; sticking to your guns and introducing new flexibilities.
So what have been your old and new? Your compromises and must haves?
Under the headings
Family – who does what? Who will tell the worst jokes? Or whose particular idiosyncrasy did you anticipate (or dread) the most?
Friends – those others, who are the essential part of your circle, not related, but without whom everything would be not quite the same; maybe you do not have family, and these are the people who are most important in your life?
Fun – your biggest laugh, the funniest thing that happened; or whatever it is that warmed your heart
Festivities – the things you do that make it Christmas for you
Food – your favourite food; the family recipe handed from generation to generation…
For us Christmas isn't over. We are those who do not decorate until Advent 4 and take everything down on Epiphany. We don't put up much anyway. This year we got up the Christmas lights outside on Advent 3+ and only began to decorate the little ornament tree last week. I just put on the red ribbon on the wreath this morning. Christmas trees have turned into kitty toys too many times of late that we don't bother to put them up anymore.
Family: Either my brother or one of his kids host Christmas Dinner ever since my my mother
could not hold it. This year it was on Christmas Eve at 2pm. It was quite fun and made allowances for the fact that J and I had church services in the evening. My family is made up of sailors or horse traders and that is where the conversations go. We have an occasional interloper but that is the extent of the interests. This year the TV was not on. Everyone was home with news that the eldest niece is returning to TX after 25 years being away. Good news. Now only the youngest of the great nieces is out of state. Sister-in-law is celebrating 5 years of sobriety and we all could rejoice with her. It was one of the best Christmases that I can remember in recent years.
Friends: When I was in active ministry it was hard to go parties because they either came at a rehearsal times or I was too tired to do the party routine. But this year I was able to attend a couple of parties that were just plain fun. It was good to spend time with friends where we could gab and joke without some fear that someone would misunderstand or find it scandalous. I am saddened that I am not able to be with the friends of the parish I attend this year because of an edict from the bishop, but I was invited by a few of them to dinner which did cut the loneliness.
Fun: One one of those dinners friends invited J and I to a Cajun dinner at a local restaurant.
They have members of their family who are high functioning but special. The mother is a hoot. The conversation was funny and friendly. It was fairly alcoholic too which improved the humor considerably. I don't think I have laughed so hard in while. There was no one thing that stands out except a martini glass....but that is another post.
Festivities: Christmas has lots of spiritual meaning for me. I really count Christmas Eve as the beginning of my walk with Christ. In 1968 I had just been baptized and I had been asked by one of the sisters at a local convent to play french horn at Midnight Mass. It was during that service that I came to realize that my 'gig' had changed from a
job into an offering. So Christmas Eve is a special event. When I was active I always tried to make that service something special--a gift for those attending so that their remembrance of Christmas Eve would be similar to mine. This was the first time in almost 50 years that I sat in the pew at a Christmas Eve service. I attended a service that was sadly not up to the usual standards of that church. The music was not well performed, the readings not well done, the sermon did not keep my interest. I felt very sad when I came home. J and I had agreed that after our trip to Mexico that we would not exchange gifts. I felt somewhat bereft. But Christmas Day I got up late, began to cook a wonderful Christmas Dinner. It was only the 2 of us but we had a free range hen to roast, dressing, Brussel sprouts and nice blackberry crumble. The rest of the evening we sat curled up on the couch in front of the TV the most relaxed I have been for 6 months. It was quiet, communal and wonderfully healing.
Food: Traditionally in our family Christmas dinner was roast beef. But with the growth of the family and the cost of a standing rib roast we seldom do that for the whole family anymore. I think
we had rolled turkey breast this year. J and I had a roasted chicken. But I do love to make a roast of beef with Yorkshire Pudding. I did notice that there are a few roasts left in the market this morning. I think I am going back and get a small one and invite some friends. Gotta have some Yorkshire Pudding for it to be Christmas.