Monday, December 17, 2012

[ Christmas Traditions & Twists ]

Christmas traditions are not a familiar terrain for me. Growing up, we spent some holidays with Grandparents in Canada, others with the other Grandparents in the States and still others at home. One year, we even went to Cancun to Christmas. Have to admit, it was a little weird seeing Christmas lights on palm trees and lighting off sparklers for New Years. There have been very few years where Christmas has had the same constants from the year before. The same location or food or people in attendance. There have been a couple years where members from my immediate family were not even altogether while one of the sisters was traipsing off around New Zealand or Europe somewhere doing YWAM.

I heard stories of people who go to the same house every year. It contains the same food and people, the only change would be who drew each others names. Their Christmas traditions rest in each other. The closeness that family and familiarity brings. It's a beautiful tradition of love. I heard of these stories and while growing up I was always surrounded by family and love, yet every year seemed to have a different twist on it.

You must understand how much I love how I grew up doing Christmas. It was different every year and I learned to embrace it- always looking forward to the people, community and relationships. I loved every year. I remember being at my uncle's farm and jumping between large round hay bales with my older (and way cooler) cousins quite a few years ago. I remember another year when all of the cousins were all at my Grandparents' house, in our pajamas opening stockings. It was mass chaos, loud and a beautiful Christmas. I remember going skating on the lake, being terrified every time the ice would shift and crack but the uncles kept on saying it was normal and supposed to happen. I remember being at my Grandparents' in Nyack, across the river from New York and playing outside in the snow. I remember my grandma doing Christmas crafts with us. I remember being home with my sisters, going shopping for each other at the same time, in the same mall and somehow still surprising each other with gifts. I remember a lot of love in our Christmas, even when every year had a new twist. I loved every year's new twist.

It wasn't until I got married to my husband and we spent our first Christmas together in Minnesota that I began to experience my first Christmas season traditions with him and his family. They have been blessed to grow up and settle down in the area. All of them live close by and Christmas is embedded with traditions. This new terrain is an important part of our married life as it is a part of both of us. Since we've gotten married, we've searched for ways to meld our Christmas experiences together.

We have found traditions in shopping for presents together for family members and having my favorite breakfast dish Puffed Apple Pancake together before we open presents. Obviously, the Hubs finds it a lot easier to establish traditions as he buys me a Christmas mug every year from Starbucks. My tradition? To never buy anything off his Christmas list. Yes, my tradition is to once again buck tradition. But, I'm working it.

In the end, Christmas traditions are not familiar terrain but I've learned that it's not what you do. It is who you are with. Regardless of location or what is served, who you are with makes all the difference.
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