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Our Family Christmas Traditions

By Annette Reuss - 17th December 2010

It’s Christmas time again and this year it seems to have caught me by surprise.  I know we have had the same number of days in the year as in all previous years, but for some reason I’m not yet in the Christmassy spirit.  Putting up the tree and decorating the house would normally have put me in the mood, however this year I can’t even find the momentum to get the tree out of the cellar.

Because I am a resourceful (read lazy) mother I enquired with Mr 18 and Mr almost-17 whether or not they would be disappointed if we didn’t bother with the tree this year.  To my surprise, and secret delight, they said they would be.  Mr almost 17 even said, “Well I probably won’t help you put it up, but it wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t have a tree.  Christmas morning would feel like just another day except we all get presents.  It wouldn’t have any meaning.  It would be weird.”  I guess the tree is going up!

I started thinking about our past Christmases and how much tradition we now have as a family.  I remember back when I first left their dad (one month before Christmas) and how that first Christmas was a bit of hit and miss for us.  All of a sudden the Christmas traditions we had shared for the first 7 years were gone.  I was struggling financially and emotionally and feeling very lonely.  Amazingly though, with the help of a certain credit card, we managed to buy a nice tree and some cheap decorations.  I bought them a Playstation and some bits and pieces. I even bought myself a Walkman so I had something under the tree to unwrap. I couldn’t really afford it, but I was so worried they would feel sad if their mum didn’t have anything to open. I’m so glad I did it – they thought Santa bought it for me and I still remember their faces lighting up when they found my present under the tree. We had a special Christmas breakfast of ham and eggs and we all played the Playstation until their dad came to pick them up at 10.00 am.   

As each year passed, we got better at celebrating Christmas and started new family traditions. One such tradition was a shopping trip in early December to buy the boys a special decoration each. They could pick anything they liked and it has been wonderful to see their tastes evolve over the years. They each now have a shoebox full of quirky, delightful decorations that hold special memories for them. We still laugh at some of the memories of buying those decorations; it wasn’t all sweetness and light, we have a number of tantrum stories to laugh about. I will give these special boxes of memories to my boys when they have their own family Christmas tree to decorate.

A favourite tradition would be going out in the car one night during the week before Christmas to look at all the lights in our suburb.  Believe it or not Mr 18 even asked last year if we were going to take them out for a drive. We did. We still loved it.
When our family of three became four and the boys gained a step father, we bought some beautiful baubles and had our names painted on them. Every year right before our Christmas Eve dinner we hang them on the tree together. Mr M and Mr almost 17 have always had a competition about whose decoration gets the highest spot on the tree.  After 8 years they have both settled for hanging their bauble from the star on the top of the tree.  Men!

The boys still go to their dad’s place at lunch time on Christmas day so we have always had our special family Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. We have roast pork, turkey and ham, cranberry sauce, gravy, roast vegetables, plum pudding, custard, fruit mince pies, my secret recipe punch, cherries and bon bons. They love this meal and we all have great memories of past Christmas dinners.  At 4.30 on Christmas Eve I also break open the huge box of chocolates and Christmas mix lollies and put them in little bowls around the house. This was, and still is, a highlight.  

As for gift giving, we also open one present each on Christmas Eve.  It is usually fun deciding which present to open, however on the odd occasion it has been disappointing.  Not so much fun to open a Brut Sports Pack of deodorant and soap when your brother opens a new Playstation game!  Yes there were tears.

My beautiful boys are all grown up and no longer believe in Santa and Christmas isn’t quite as magical as it once was. However it still brings me great pleasure to see how the small traditions we have created over the years can still bring Christmas joy to the hearts of my teenage boys. We all get great comfort from memories that bathe us in the warmth of our childhood.

Do you have any Christmas traditions?  Share them with me, I’d love to hear what you do.

image freedigitalphotos.net

Comments (2)

Just starting to build our traditions...

My boys are young and we've just (hopefully) made our final overseas move so we haven't got any strict traditions yet. But reading about yours, and the way they've changed and grown over the years, is beautiful. I still love that my mum sends me a new angel ornament every year (I choose to think it's based on good memories of me as a child - hehe).

You are an inspiration!!

Our Family Christmas Traditions

I love this post Annette, thaks for sharing something so deeply personal. I can particularly relate to how you created fresh traditions for your family in your new circumstances. Good on you! When my newly integrated family came together some years ago, we went through the same exercise and each year we still create something new. Every year the logistical arrangements are flexible and can change at a moment's notice but we work with this and focus on being centred in our home and ensuring a stable reliable set of traditions that can be done at any time of day. Our kids are still young and whilst Mr 11 may not still believe in Father Christmas he knows it's not in his interests to call it!

In the melee of Christmas, please spare a thought for those of us who may be in less than ideal circumstances - here's one such situation on which to reflect.http://bit.ly/g6j0AC

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