The times they are a-changing

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 😉

8 thoughts on “The times they are a-changing

  1. Wonderful post!I used to leave "beer" and peanuts for Santa too. ;-)I grew up traveling to see my family (two hours away) on Christmas Day. We would wake up, tear through the presents, cook food, get dressed, and make the drive to see the family. My husband grew up spending his day at home… all day long… in his pajamas. Family was more than welcome to visit, but he never left the house.This is "HIS" year to pick what we do for Christmas and he is choosing to stay home… all day long… in his pajamas. I tend to agree. I think, for the first time ever, I will choose to stay home next year too… but I feel guilty about that.

  2. We've been alternating – but it's a pain. Though I can't see a way around it – unless someone moves closer to us, we are always going to have to travel. 😦 We always left beer (by itself) out for Santa on Xmas. Yep, spot the alco father! ;D

  3. Wow, as I get older I realise just how important Xmas is to so many people. My mother and I really didn't celebrate it at all – I think there was one Xmas spent with the extended family, one "traditional" Xmas (which was expensive and pointless just for the 2 of us) and a couple of Xmas Eves where we exchanged gifts, but other than that – Xmas Day has just been another day, albeit one where everyone seems to be busy and nothing (used to be) open.So when I tell people that I don't have any interest in Xmas, it's not because I'm a Scrooge, but it's because I really don't have any of these sorts of memories and traditions to fall back upon. I know it's an important time of the year, but I don't feel that it is, and I don't regret that I grew up without any traditions, but I do sometimes regret not having more of a connection with it. Because then maybe I'd remember to get cards and wish people Happy Xmas instead of wondering why everyone is getting so tense and why they insist on draping tinsel all over my desk!! :DI hope that the future stay-at-home tradition works for you, Mim!

  4. On their off years, when they don't have family Xmas day, my parents go out to a posh restaurant and sometimes a movie – I reckon that sound good for every second year.Hope you have a great Christmas!

  5. Isn't it curious how our Christmas traditions change as our families grow and evolve? We are in the phase of our lives where my sister and I must host the huge family gatherings. She does does Thanksgiving, I do Christmas. We have almost 20 people coming for dinner tomorrow. I kind of wish I had the option of hopping in the car and driving to somebody's else's house. It will be marvelous if I can keep the stress to a minimum. Merry Christmas Mim! Milk and beer sounds good to me!

  6. Staying put has seemed to become a default for us, and I'm liking it. It always involves extended family, but I suspect I'm not going anywhere else anymore either. After all, I did design the whole damn house around being able to host Christmas. :)@ZB: Have you ever considered creating a tailor-made custom of your own? I sometimes think it would be interesting to see what Christmas would look like if I started my own traditions from scratch. Of course, I'd suggest a tradition that involves less stress than the average one. 🙂

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