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Monday, 10 December 2012 08:14

Christmas Traditions - Part 1: Determining Priorities

I have put a lot of thought into 'Christmas Traditions' in the past couple of years.  Starting my own family has made me evaluate which 'traditions' I would like to carry on for my children.

Brian and I both come to the table with our own set of traditions and expectations.  Both of us are the oldest in our families (and extended families), our families almost all live nearby, and most of our extended families were still in the habit of celebrating Christmas on 'the day', or as close to Christmas Day (the 25th) as possible.  Now that we have 5 or 6 family gatherings, plus friends and church activities to schedule into that week, we have really had to evaluate our priorities. 

Our first priority, we have decided, is to teach our children about the 'real meaning' of Christmas (the Christian one, not the pagan sun holiday).  This is difficult, because we realize many of our traditions are decidedly 'un-Christian' - setting up a Christmas tree, giving each other a ridiculous number of gifts, excessive gluttony... however, we do hope to make every effort to teach our kids about that first coming of 'Baby' Jesus, and so our number one priority is our Christmas Eve church service.  A few years back we announced to every family that no matter where we were on Christmas Eve, we would be leaving in the early evening to go to church.

Our second priority (when it comes to scheduling), is to make sure we have a chance to make our own traditions as a small family, and for me right now this means we need to dedicate a full day to our family (Brian, Me, and the girls) at Christmas time.  A day when we can sit in our PJ's and open stockings and presents together, play games, watch movies, or do whatever we wish as a family.  Since our plan is to attend a Christmas Eve service every year, it makes sense to me to try to plan 'this day' for the 24th. Of course I won't be too strict about which day this happens, because Christmas is also all about spending time with family - and we have a LOT of family - so it will be important to try to be flexible as well.

Our third (and fourth) priorities are our parents.  They are both newly Grandparents (since Clara was born), and they are both working on figuring out their own traditions as far as 'being Grandparents' goes, so we want to give them as much as we can here.  Because the 25th is usually the 'sought after' day, we will probably spend it with one set of parents, and maybe the 26th with the other... whatever days they choose, we have informed our parents that we will spend a full day (if they wish) with each set.

In the future, Brian and I would like to pick up our old tradition of hosting a New Years Eve party at our house.  We still usually have a friend or two over to eat and play games (we're not big 'party' people anyway), but in the future we'll invite more families and make more of an event out of it like we used to.

As much as we love our Grandparents, they get our leftovers as it were. We will do everything we can to see all of our families around the holidays - which also means prioritizing families that come in from out of town.  So far we haven't done any traveling over the holidays - if we did, we would probably have to re-think some of these things.

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