When Adam and I married I pretty much co-opted him into our family Christmas traditions, when Christmas lunch was at my mum’s place we’d have lunch with his parents and then head over to join my family, if my family were further afield for the day we’d go to them for lunch and see his parents in the evening on the way home. That became less fun when we had small kids – traveling for an hour across Sydney in the heat on Christmas day was pretty hideous and after one particularly bad experience involving visits to three different homes, stifling heat and a blanket of smoke and ash from bushfires over most of Sydney we called it quits. Besides, my siblings and cousins were all starting to have partners’ families to see and getting everyone together was getting harder and harder.
Eventually we stopped trying to see my cousins, Aunts and Uncles on Christmas Day, sometimes we manage to see them at a family gathering sometime close to Christmas – perhaps a picnic one weekend in December, or as we did this year at my Grandmother’s birthday party – but we don’t exchange gifts anymore.
In recent years we’ve tried to alternate spending Christmas Day with either my family or Adam’s. Ideally my brother and sister and their families do the same and we try to synchronise so that we’re all together for Christmas lunch in the years when it’s my family’s turn. It’s worked out pretty well a few times, last year we all managed to be together at my Mum’s place for lunch – 9 adults and 8 kids. This year I invited Adam’s brother and family to our place for Christmas lunch but they decided they’d rather do lunch on Christmas Eve at their place so we’re taking my mother-in-law there tomorrow and bringing her to my Mum’s place on Christmas Day for a quiet lunch with just us, my Mum and Dad and my Grandma. My brother’s family will be up in the Blue Mountains with his in-laws and my sister probably won’t be home yet after having had her 3rd baby by c-section on Monday this week. Yep, I’m an aunty again 🙂
Adam grew up with a somewhat different experience of Christmas. His family did not travel at all on Christmas Day, they stayed at home and had a traditionally seasonally inappropriate baked dinner and Christmas pudding lunch just for their immediate family with Adam’s Grandma sometimes there as a house-guest. Afterwards they would all pile into the car on Boxing Day and head north to Gosford to spend the day with the extended family, but on Christmas Day itself, no going nowhere! So it was quite a shock to the system for Adam to be dragged all over the city on Christmas Day. Lately Adam has been expressing a desire to celebrate Christmas the way he grew up doing it and for ReasonsTM* I’ve begun to see the merits of the idea.
In fact we’re both very much inclined to say that this will be the last year that we go anywhere for Christmas Day, we’ll be very happy to have any and everyone come to our house to celebrate the day with us but we’re staying put. I’m tired of the dragged out process of deciding who is going to be where and what, if any, presents we’re giving each other and not knowing for sure until well into December what I’m expected to do for the big day.
Some things won’t change for a good few years yet though. There’ll still be fruit mince pies, milk AND beer** for Santa and carrots and a water bucket for the Reindeer – they make a terrible mess every time, water spilled everywhere and carrot fragments all over the front deck – and the kids waking up way too early. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that they’ve known about the whole Santa gig for years, it’s just not Christmas unless you play the game!
*the sort which are significant but which I don’t propose to elaborate upon.
**milk AND beer?! I hear you cry…Look, I grew up leaving the milk out, Adam’s family did the beer thing. When David was old enough to notice Christmas we had a discussion and reached an impasse. So we decided to let Santa choose which he wanted, and would you know, he usually has both! Guess flying around in the heat in those ridiculous clothes works up a serious thirst 😉