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Old 12-18-2007, 05:57 PM
 
Location: Maine
5,054 posts, read 10,939,951 times
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We had a wonderful thread for Thanksgiving, sharing all our traditional festivities, foods, fond memories, etc. I thought it was time to share our Christmas plans!

Our holiday is always extremely full, hectic and wonderful! Family gatherings start on Christmas Eve for lunch at Grandma's - my grandma. Every year of my life, we've had this gathering as our family grew and grew. We used to all exchange gifts and get presents from Grandma and Grandpa. Eventually, the family got too large for all the gift giving, and we switched to letting the kids under 15 draw names and the adults each bring a "white elephant" gift. That's always a fun game and gets us all crowded into the living room once each year to share in the laughter together. It's very nice.

We have smoked turkey, ham, Canadian bacon and sausage links from my uncle's processing house. Aunt Sheila makes a wonderful layered salad with chicken, lettuce, cheese, bacon, peas - not sure what all is in there, but it's scrumptuous! And there's home-made macNcheese, potato salad, veggie & fruit trays, chips and dips and more dessert than you can possibly sample! The dessert table, alone, is a 6X6 spread on the BIG table in the den. It's unreal!

We now number 47 - all in one 2000 square foot house - every Christmas Eve at noon. You can only imagine!! Grandpa passed away two years ago, and Grandma will be moving in with Aunt Sheila in the spring. This is our last year for Christmas at Grandma's, and it gives me yet another sign that our time here is complete. Time to move forward! It will be a very sad passing in my life of a family tradition that has always been. At the same time, it will be a new beginning and an opportunity to create new and wonderful traditions for my own little family.

My parents and siblings leave Grandma's and come to our house for an evening gift exchange and finger foods - if we have any room left over!

Then, Christmas morning is OUR time to share with our kids. It's always a wonderful morning of smiles, squeals and torn paper EVERYWHERE!! Around 2pm, we leave the house and travel 10 minutes across town to DH's Mom's, where we get together with MIL, BIL and SIL. The kids are showered with MORE gifts! It usually takes a truck to get it all back home - not kidding! It's rediculous! I tell everyone every year to PLEASE only buy my kids one thing each. They have plenty. Every year, no-one listens. Kind of makes me sad thinking of all the kids in the world who get nothing.

We do our part at Christmas time to give to the "Toys for Tots" in our area. We do the ritual "cleaning out" of the toy buckets and donate all the good, used toys to the local organization. My girls love taking them to the drop-off location. They are happy to know that other kids will have something for Christmas because they are able to share. Then, we buy a few new things for the collection box at our Walmart store. Again, I hope that our girls are learning the significance and joy of giving - not just the joy of receiving.

I hope you all enjoy every moment of your holiday season with family and dear friends. Take nothing for granted! Life is too short!!

Happy Holidays, My Dear Friends!
~El
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Old 12-18-2007, 06:32 PM
 
Location: Florida (SW)
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Thank you so much for sharing your family traditions...and sharing the sweet pathos contained in the truth, that nothing stands still and therefore each moment is to be treasured for all it contains of nostalgia, present joy and anticipation. It sounds as if you are standing in the fullness of the moment and on the brink of new traditions and a new life. Thank you for sharing, I look forward to reading the other contributions.
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:13 PM
 
Location: Arlington Virginia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elcarim View Post
...I hope you all enjoy every moment of your holiday season with family and dear friends. Take nothing for granted! Life is too short!! ...
My "little brother" Patrick the cat was _very_ interested and carefully investigating the fireplace this morning He remembers stuff, and has always had a stocking on the mantel with Christmas goodies there since we moved here eight years ago (none yet this year). He is 17yo and it is interesting to see how he remembers things, even in annual cycles.
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:38 PM
 
Location: FINALLY IN MAINE!!!!!
175 posts, read 373,565 times
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The way my family celebrates Christmas is on Christmas Eve, we always went to my Mom & Dad's house. We usually got there around 6 pm and we would eat supper there. Our feast always contains much of the same thing. One huge Turkey and a ham, dressing, mac & cheese, spaghetti salad, corn cassarole, green beans, squash cassarole, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, gravy, black eyed peas, mashed potatoes, and the list goes on. We, too had tons of desserts. Everything from pumpkin pie to chocolate cake, lots of cookies, lemon bars, cheesecake, etc.... Lots of good food.
Then after we ate, we would all gather in the room where the tree was. We would always have Christmas music playing in the background. We use to buy gifts for everyone, but since we kept growing, we had to trim it down and we only would get for the young kids. Then we started drawing names. We would then get two from the family and it was usually my brother and I. We would pass out all the gifts. And boy were there gifts. We had paper up to the wazoooo. But it was such fun. Then as the kids played with all the toys, the adults of course would ease their way back to the desserts and leftovers, grab a cup of coffee and eat some more. Then about 10p we would all start packing up and head back to our own homes to get ready for "Santa" for our own children. On Christmas day, we did Christmas at our own houses. MOre toys and another meal to eat. Usually by the afternoon, after all the playing with the toys and eating till our hearts content, it would be nap time.
Another CHristmas would have passed and couldn't wait till the next one. This year, it will be the last one at my parents house also. My Dad passed away in 2001 and my Mom is now in a nursing home with ALzheimers. So we will be celebrating without them. It will be bittersweet to know this will be the last time of ever having it at their house. We will be missing others, as some have already made the move to Maine and Virginia.
I have so many great memories of Christmas and it has always been one of my favorite times of the year. I cannot wait to be able to have a "White Christmas". I have never experienced it and to me it just seems more like Christmas with snow. So I am looking foward to spending my next CHristmas in Maine. Even though we will not all be together on that day in person, we will always be together in our hearts.
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Old 12-18-2007, 08:07 PM
 
Location: Maine
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Thanks for sharing that! I, too, can't wait to add a white Christmas to my family's traditions! What a nice thing to have to look forward to!!
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Old 12-18-2007, 08:09 PM
 
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What a joyous and family filled tradition you have!

Oh El, as much as you and your family look forward to moving to Maine, I can't help to think how sad and lonely you will be on your first Christmas away from beloved family members. Maybe invite them all up!?!?!
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Old 12-18-2007, 08:53 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
29,752 posts, read 47,567,589 times
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Christmas Traditions?

We dont really do much. We spend the day playing games or doing chores.

We have been married for 26 years, though for most of them I have been underwater. So for most of the holidays we have been seperated.

I think that both I and my DW came from somewhat dis-functional backgrounds.

I have five siblings. Since I enlisted none of my siblings will have any contact with me. We send them cards and presents each year: each of my siblings, my neices and nephews. None of them responded to their wedding invitations, none of them have ever responded with a Christmas gift in return, and none of them have ever visited us in any home that we have lived in though we have invited them to visit us in each home we have lived in, in each country. It has all been their loss, as far as I know none of my siblings have ever been to Paris or London, Berlin or Rome, Cairo, Jerusalem or Naples. But we have.

When my DW was 13 both of her parents died of cancers within months of each other, leaving her and her sister to live with cousins. Neither of them were ever 'accepted' within any of those families, so they grew up forced to ever remain as outsiders.

The result is that we have never had any overtly friendly contact with any of our relatives, so they are not included in our holiday plans. We have sent out gifts though.

We do a birthday cake on 25December in honour of Jesus' birth.

I can't really think of anything else that we do.
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Old 12-19-2007, 05:12 AM
 
Location: Just west of the Missouri River
622 posts, read 1,279,027 times
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Forest, I grew up in different, but also "disfunctional" circumstances. Families can make you sad, but you survive and I think what I see (read) in you and see in myself is kind of a fierce independence that I'm pretty sure I would not have had if I had come from a warm and fuzzy family. (Not at all that makes up for it, but one doesn't get to choose.)

Your lucky to have your wife and kids. God bless you!
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Old 12-19-2007, 05:40 AM
 
Location: Maine
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We're in tradition limbo. When I was a child my mother's family lived within a few miles. Christmas Eve took us down the road and around the corner to my grandparents' house to visit. We left there to go down the road and around the corner to my uncle's house. By then it was me, my sister, parents and grandparents. We visited then added my aunt, uncle and two cousins to the ground and walked next door to my aunt and cousin's house. More visiting and then everyone came back to our house. After visiting we stayed home and everyone else went to my grandparents, they stayed home and the remaining family members went to my uncle's home, then my aunt and cousin went home. Follow that?

There was similar visiting on Christmas day and dinner at my grandparents.

Today, we live two hours from my father, two hours from Steve's family and 30 minutes from my sister. Trying to juggle families and step families and in-laws is too much in one day. We'll have dinner with my sister and father Saturday. We'll deliver presents and visit Steve's family on Sunday. We fill in when and where we can. Nothing is ever the same from year to year. Our oldest daughter is coming home Sunday or Monday. We'll be home all day on Christmas.

I'm looking forward to when my daughters are married and have families of their own. I really miss having small children in the family, especially at holiday times.
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Old 12-19-2007, 06:14 AM
 
Location: Maine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moughie View Post
What a joyous and family filled tradition you have!

Oh El, as much as you and your family look forward to moving to Maine, I can't help to think how sad and lonely you will be on your first Christmas away from beloved family members. Maybe invite them all up!?!?!
Actually, they can't wait to spend a white Christmas in Maine with us! My immediate family, anyway. Even MIL, who is dead set against us moving, has informed us that she expects a MIL apartment on the property. She works for Continental and can fly up anytime she wants. My parents think nothing of hopping in the van and driving for two days to go sight-seeing, so I think they'll wander up periodically with little effort. They're every bit as adventurous as I am! We know that coming home every year will be impossible, but we'll make the years we are able. The rest, I do hope they come see us.

And we'll have you guys! I look forward to sharing some of our traditions with our new friends!!
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