Since I met Paul I haven’t seen my family for Christmas. It doesn’t even bother me, although there was a time it made me sad. Now, after twelve Christmases with him I realize I’m grateful to be with him, and someday we’ll have Christmas with my family. Every other year his family does a big family Christmas, and the alternate years the other married brothers being their pilgrimage to Utah to be with their inlaws. On those years we sometimes see Paul’s parents, but usually spend it quietly at home.
(This year we got the best of both scenarios, as the family came to California. We had a nice quiet Christmas eve and morning as our small family, but then went up to my brother-in-law’s home midday and were “surprised” by the rest of the family. The next three days were the full-on festivities with all the food and adventure. It was pretty near perfect.)
As the boys grow we are having a great time creating our own little Christmas traditions. We try to get them new pajamas every year, missing only last year but we scrounged around for Christmasy pajamas (albeit not new or even the right size) but now we’re back to normal, picking up cheap sets from the clearance sales at the outlet mall.
Sometime during the holiday we harvest the fruit from our young, potted orange tree. (This year there was only one, but it was perfect. The tree is still too young to be producing fruit and I should not have forced it into maturity last year for my own selfish desires.) We also make a gingerbread house sometime in December. We have found the Wilton boxed kits to be so easy that I don’t think we’ll ever go back to doing it the old fashioned way.
While I grew up reading “A Visit From St. Nick” on Christmas Eve, Paul and I both prefer his family’s tradition of reading Luke 2. All the Santa-related stories happen earlier in the day, although now that Little Red is older and I’m teaching him about maps, we have been following the NORAD Santa Tracker so we do check where Santa is before bedtime. (“He’s in our country! Oh my! We really need to get to bed. If someone in the house is awake when he comes, he’ll skip us! He won’t risk being caught.”) This year we left out candy cane cookies for him, in the initials of everyone in the family who wanted to leave him a cookie. (Don’t forget: Daddy, Mummy, Little Red, and BOy Blue.)
Now, Santa is a very smart man, and he knows that different families like their toys to come different ways. He knows that in our family the boys only ask for one [fairly modest] thing because we want to make sure that all the children in the world get toys. He also knows that little boys have little patience and that parents have enough work to do on Christmas morning, so after he fills the stockings he leaves the requested toy out in plain sight: not wrapped, not packaged, pre-assembled, and with batteries installed if necessary. In our home, Christmas morning is very magical to go downstairs and see the tree, the packages, the newly-filled stockings, and the very toy you’ve been thinking about and wanting for months, ready-to-go. (For the rest of the morning, and Paul and I are fiddling with packaging and trying to find batteries, the boys are already playing with their favourite toys. It’s a beautiful thing.) I know Santa does things differently for other people, but I’m so glad he does it this way for us!