Everyone has their own path for having a sane holiday, including me. Some people buy gifts for only children, while others buy no gifts at all. Many retirees I know have downsized, while others are determined to keep the house the same as they always have since their children were little. Some make religion a large part of their Christmas holiday, while others do the secular thing. Some of us travel for Christmas, some of us host the entire family, and some of us celebrate alone-all of which work!
This is really my second "downsized" holiday, and it really is working for me. Granted, I come from a different perspective. For years, my little family lived far from relatives, with Christmas travel difficult if not impossible because New Year's day was my husband's second busiest business day of the year (with Thanksgiving being the first). Our family visits were during the slow, warmer months. Christmas involved just the four of us, with my husband the gourmet cooking things like steak and lobster rather than traditional turkey. In fact, the morning was spent with gifts and traditional Christmas, and the evening was spent having our own traditional dinner. Midday was less than traditional. For years, my daughter and I left my husband (and later the baby) to football, and went to an afternoon first run movie. Lest anyone think otherwise, I need to tell you that we LOVED this, and it was not until I was talking about it the other day that I realized how much I missed it.
We did make one trip back from Germany for Christmas with my husbands family-a wonderful madhouse with between fourteen and twenty people, all of whom shared gifts. When I returned to Texas, that tradition continued for Thanksgiving, Christmases, and Easter. It was fun, but it could be exhausting-and expensive. A few years ago, that tradition changed, as traditions do. We now draw names for the greater family with a 75 dollar limit per person. At the same time, in my own little family unit, we agreed on a limit of fifty dollars (parent and children) with a 75 dollar maximum. My other greater family here in Denver has a tradition of smaller gifts, often hand made or meaningful.
This year, we have gone full circle, in a sense. My daughter and her husband bought their first home this summer, and they want to spend it at home. Some other year they might like to host the whole family, but this year they wish for their Christmas to include themselves, along with myself and other child. So once again, we will be just four for Christmas-a wonderful deal, if you ask me. Especially as we again have a male in the family who will cook up a storm of most likely non traditional fare (I am not a turkey person and there is only so much prime rib one person can eat). In fact in a bit of serendipity, the entire Texas contingent will be spread across multiple homes. My nephew has been invited to his girlfriend's house. One sister in law and her husband downsized to a smaller house and moved over Thanksgiving, with neither the energy or the time to travel or host. So we are looking at four different Christmas celebrations this year.
Along with downsizing and no longer cooking for Christmas, I've down sized in other ways. I given one kid all the Christmas things I got for her over the years, and plan to do so with my other when we take down the tree this year. I realized that I wanted to look at only things I absolutely loved, and that maybe when it comes to Christmas, less can be more. I'm keeping (and adding to) the Christmas village, I have two nativity sets (and want another). I have a few general Christmas decorations, but basically my decor is simple and revolves around the tree, the village and nativities and many Christmas quilts. Add to that the Christmas dishes I kept and my son's nutcracker collection and there you have it. A more simplified Christmas.
Some traditions never change. Even at my daughter's, we will have homemade lasagna or else appetizers for dinner before going to church at midnight. In the morning we will light candles and have scrambled eggs and Christmas cookies. Other traditions however, have gone by the wayside, for a variety of reasons. I no longer have an Advent tree. I have absolutely no entertaining planned (absolutely none!!), although I will attend three church/knitting/school Christmas parties with joy.
On the other hand, I'll go to the imitation German Christmas market, and check out the holiday lights at the Botanic Gardens. Ill drive around the neighborhood and look at the displays one night, and do carols and a cookie exchange. More importantly, I'll have Christmas crafting and cookie baking programs at the shelter, as well as helping decorate where I volunteer. I purchased donation tree gifts for a mom whose only request for her children or herself was diapers when she could have asked for anything. And hopefully, I'll remember that Christmas begins on December 25th, not now, and that there is a reason for the season.
Oh, I almost forgot. In one last moment of serendipity, the random Christmas elf generator gave me my son as my "drawn name", and gave my son my sister's husband. The gifts they are a-coming.
As for me, all I want is peace on earth, good will towards men-and lots of Amtrak gift cards!!