Having a complicated Christmas
So, when did Christmas get so complicated?
Napoleon crossing the Alps with a large army and a bunch of elephants didn’t take as much planning, strategy and effort as we put into celebrating Christmas these days.
I remember growing up as a lad in San Diego in the 1950s and 60s. It was a simpler time and so was celebrating Christmas.
My parents and three brothers and I had a pretty easy routine.
We went to church on Christmas Eve, came home, had a traditional California Christmas Eve dinner of enchiladas and then, finally, gathered around the Christmas tree and got to open some presents.
Considering there were six of us, there really were not that many gifts under the tree. It didn’t take too long to open them.
Remarkably, some of the presents were new clothes not just toys. What kid these days wants to get clothes at Christmas? We actually did. New clothes were a treat. It didn’t happen very often.
The rest of the evening was spent playing with the gifts or even modeling the new duds.
We were sent to bed early, but it was mighty tough to get to sleep.
Christmas morning was the excitement of seeing what Santa had brought. It was always one main big toy maybe even a new bike! and, a few smaller items in the stockings hung by the chimney with care (yes, we had a fireplace complete with mantle in our California home).
It was back off to church on Christmas morning, sometimes wearing our brand new “Sunday Go To Meetin'” clothes.
After that we always went cross-town to my aunt and uncle’s home for a real big traditional Christmas dinner no enchiladas this time.
They were our only relatives within 2,000 miles. And that might be a reason our Christmas celebrations were relatively simple. There simply were not a lot relatives to go visit. My grandparents lived in Minnesota and Tennessee.
Fast forward to the 1970s.
I got married and Pam and I had three kids.
While we tried to keep the traditional Christmas Eve and Christmas Day routine going, it got complicated.
There was our small family celebration but there was also getting to my parents home and Pam’s parents home for celebrating as well. And, considering that we all lived in towns far apart from each other, that further complicated things.
Sometimes it was one side of the family on the weekend before Christmas, the other side on actual Christmas Day, or maybe even the weekend after.
Throw in the fact that all three of our kids were born five days after Christmas (three years apart to the day), and you wind up with two solid weeks of celebrations, one after another, hundreds of miles apart.
The planning was incredible. And the car was packed full of suitcases, presents, and gear.
Oh, yes, and five people. There wasn’t room for one more thing.
We still have this saga, of course, only now we are the parents and our kids and grandkids have to figure out how and when to get to our house. With now six adult children (including spouses) and nine grandchildren, some of our siblings, my mother and even a spare guest or two, we can get quite a crowd.
And the presents are piled so high around the tree that you actually have trouble seeing that there is a tree.
We still try to have the same traditions. Church, food and opening gifts. But it is on a much grander scale.
At least, that is the way it seems to this old guy.
Which way do I prefer? You might guess I yearn for the good old days. But the truth is, I love them both.
Christmas to me is about two things. Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and getting together as a family.
And whether we do it simply, or on a grand scale, it is a special time.
We have quite a week long celebration of birthdays (for Jesus, our kids, grandkids and a few others) planned again this year, with all of our family.
And I can hardly wait.
I hope you have a very special, blessed, meaningful Christmas. And that you get to spend some time with the people you love, whether it is just one or two or a big crowd.
Then take some time to enjoy them.