Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends. ~Margaret Thatcher
As a young girl, I loved our Christmas tradition of getting up early, opening gifts, and being with my brothers and my parents. My Mom would play Christmas music and we would enjoy just being together as a family. My brothers and I would count down the hours until we loaded up the car and took the 15-minute drive to my grandparent’s home.
Christmas at my grandparents was special with aunts, uncles, and cousins. As soon as we opened the door to the house, we would be greeted by my grandfather’s signature appetizer – sliced sausages – that sizzled in the chafing dish. I always looked forward to Christmas at my grandparents. It was warm, it was cozy, and it was joyful.
When I was in college, hosting Christmas was too much for my grandparents, so my parents started hosting Christmas dinner at their home. My Mom’s signature meal was turkey with her amazing gravy, stuffing, and homemade cranberry sauce and my Dad’s signature drink was Crown Royal, on the rocks with a twist. Christmas dinner around my Mom’s beautifully set table was warm, it was cozy, and it was joyful.
After I married, it became difficult to choose where to go on Christmas Day: my parent’s home or my in-laws. My Mom solved this problem by offering to host Christmas Eve at her home. For 24 years, Christmas Eve meant her signature Christmas meal, and the benefit of inviting friends whose family was not local, join us around the table. It was warm, it was cozy, and it was joyful.
After my Mom passed away, my Dad didn’t want to host Christmas Eve or really celebrate Christmas. That first year, he came to our home for Christmas day. The next year, he went three hours north to my brother’s home for Christmas day. Our holiday didn’t feel with the same without our Christmas Eve tradition.
This year I suggested having Christmas Eve at my Dad’s home. At first, my Dad pushed back. He didn’t want to decorate, put up a tree, or set the dining room table. I gently told him that Christmas was not about the decorations, presents, or a fancy meal; Christmas is about being together as a family and time together is what’s important.
Friends and family are what matters; it is the only thing my Mom ever wanted for Christmas.
It is Christmas Eve and the dining room table is set; we’ve preordered our meal from a local Chinese restaurant. My Dad, my husband, my children, my younger brother, and his family, as well as my older brother (via phone from South Africa), will once again be together around the table as a family.
It will be warm. It will be cozy. It will be joyful.