Christmas, that word itself screams family and a time for togetherness. I took it for granted as a child. Then I grew up and moved over 2000 miles away from home to go to college. I managed to make it home during the college years. Then, after I graduated, airfare prices seemed to soar making it very difficult to make my annual trek home.
Then I married prince charming who came with a very large family that also considered Christmas equally important. It was the one time of year that all six of his siblings got together. What was I getting myself into?
Christmas of 2013
Our first married Christmas, we went to California to celebrate it with my mother’s very large family. It would be her first Christmas in probably 29 years that she would get to celebrate it with them. I’m seeing the trend now, from my mother to me. Despite how important Christmas with our parents was, we would devote that time to our in laws. I knew after my California Christmas that I needed to find a new Christmas in my heart otherwise I would probably be very bitter about the holiday every year in not being able to spend it with my parents. That just wouldn’t do.
Christmas of 2014
I knew in advance to stay put and not make travel plans for my annual trek. That I needed to make traditions of my own that also included going to the huge Christmas party that my husband’s siblings had every year.
Christmas of 2014 threw us a curve ball with a call to pick up our first foster care placement, a newborn, from the hospital just a few days before Christmas. It was truly special to become a family of 3 that year. My first year that I tried so hard to make my “own Christmas” without my parents.
From this Christmas, I started the tradition of making new years cards to send out to family and friends with a year in review update. This helped me to feel close to those loved ones that I didn’t get to see often.
Christmas of 2015
I was a miserable almost 8 months pregnant but I pushed through. My dear mother sent me some pieces of Christmas decor from her own collection to help me have pieces of my childhood. One piece was a collage that I made when I was about 4 years old with cut outs of Christmas cards that my mother saved. This was particularly special because she used to always hang it with the one she made when she was a little girl.
I will carry on with saving Christmas cards so that my own children can make the collage when they are that age.
Christmas of 2016
We went on a week long family vacation in early December to Puerto Rico. This made us feel like we didn’t get to savor Christmas. We got the tree late in December and by the time we got everything decorated, Christmas was over.
The lesson learned and tradition gained was to not go anywhere on vacation in the month of December. This way we could really cherish Christmas.
Christmas of 2017
The biggest change this year is an artificial tree. We had bought one on clearance for really cheap. Despite the practicality of it with not being messy, not costing a lot and not needing constant watering, it is just not the same. I miss the elegance of a real tree and the wonderful smell. I will deal this year since it’s already up and in my living room. I plan to make a new tradition this year of making sugar cookies and decorating them with my children.
For the Future
I have really learned to embrace Christmas and make it my own. I have come leaps and bounds from my first married Christmas. I also try to make sure to video chat with my mom throughout the Christmas season as I imagine her making her own Christmas without me must be very difficult as well. I cannot wait to see what other fun traditions my family makes in the Christmases to come.