Ever since I was very young, we have celebrated our Christmas on the 24th. I was that kid that got up at 3:00 a.m. so my parents moved our celebrations to the 24th ever since. This tradition has worked to our advantage for a couple of reasons:
1. You get your stuff before midnight mass and can wear cool new things. This was important to me in junior high.
2. You get to stay up late and can sleep in on the 25th
3. As an adult, my family is reserved for the 24th and M's is the 25th - no arguments about who and when.
4. You have a whole day to get ready for the After Christmas Sales.
In the past, we could have celebrated three or even four Christmas's. This year is no exception. Growing up - we'd celebrate Christmas early with just the 5 of us, then drive 600 miles to Wisconsin and celebrate at both Grandparent's houses. Very cool when you're 11. The same is true when you're 41... This year: the 23rd with my younger brother & family, 24th with the rest of the family, 25th with M and his parents, and the 26th with M's brother's family. Phew!
The 24th has very strong traditions for my family that we try to keep from year to year:
1. We go to a fancy place for brunch. This way, my Mom is not cooking all day. And everyone gets what they want, too. Plus, no one wants to sit down for a fancy Christmas dinner at my folk's house.
2. We hang out between the brunch and mass time - naps, playing pool, or just visiting.
3. We always go to 4:00 mass to "get it over with". I always go early with my Dad to save seats - around 3:10. We usually have mass in the gym as it is faster and you get a cushioned chair. But this year, my Mom was a Eucharistic captain in the main church, so we had to leave even earlier this year to save seats in the pew. It is definitely much easier to save a certain amount of chairs for the family, then space in the pew.
4. We get home around 5:10 and we all change into comfy clothes.
5. We have my favorite meal of the year - Christmas party food. This includes shrimp, cheeses, meats, crackers, hotdogs of some sort (don't ask), meatballs, and craploads of candy/cookies. If we're lucky, my sister-in-law makes us buckeyes. And this year, my parents made my favorite - press cookies. I am in charge of chocolates and chex mix (see below post).
6. Dad makes us his famous bloody mary's or anything else we want.
7. We open presents in the family room with a couple of "rules". One at a time, usually youngest to oldest and certain people are in charge of the garbage bags, gift bags and boxes. This can last for hours, but with my younger brother missing some years, it is shorter.
8. We try on our stuff afterwards to show it off. M and I pack the car and head home or in the past we'd drive to his folks' place 100 miles away. As bad as this seems, I love driving on Christmas Eve seeing all of the lights.
Today, my in-laws are over for the first time on Christmas. M and I have always celebrated the 25th in their home - until this year. As important the 24th is to me, the 25th is to him. Because my in-laws downsized their home, we invited them this year. No fancy meal - just sandwiches and party food - totally my style. Right now, they're all in the family room watching a dvd they bought M for Christmas. The movie is from 1949, so I found other "things" to do - like clean up the kitchen, tidy up and write this. I'm not being anti-social or anything - in fact I don't think they even know I'm gone. (although I found out in the last 2 nights while playing the game "True Colors" that I evidently talk too much while watching movies - so they are really not missing me.) Note to self - try not to talk while watching movies.
It is not often I am alone on Christmas day. But today I was alone for awhile - while M napped and even now as I write this. And that's ok - as everyone that I love, I saw or will see in these four days. I hope everyone who reads this post has had as good a Christmas as me - if you did, you are blessed like me. :)
11 hours ago