My last post about how Christmas isn't just for kids got some interesting responses. Sharah wanted to know more about how my family celebrates. I consider myself very lucky -- I've spent every Christmas of my life to date with my family. When dh & I got married, I moved to the city where he was born and raised and where almost all of his extended family lives. I told him the deal was that since his family could see us anytime they liked during the rest of the year, and Christmas was a much bigger deal for my family (especially since his mother passed away), we would spend Christmas with them. And we haven't missed one yet in 22 years of marriage, even though we are a two-hour flight & one hour drive away (and the weather has sometimes made things touch & go).
My (childfree by choice) younger sister & her partner come out from the city and spend a few days while we are there. My maternal grandmother was Scandinavian, so Christmas Eve was always the focal point of our celebrations. Usually we arrive at least day or two ahead, and I get to decorate the tree. They know I love it so they save the job for me. It's a real, old-fashioned tree with big coloured lightbulbs and the same ornaments that have appeared on our Christmas tree for the last 40+ years. I dig out the box with my childhood letters to Santa and laugh & cry while reading them.
We have dinner (which has evolved over the years -- lutefisk when my mother was a kid -- yuck! -- ham when I was little and now it's usually pickerel), early evening church service & then we open our presents to & from each other. Christmas Day we have stockings from Santa (we all have them! -- my mom fills them for my sister & I, & we do them for our dhs & switch off on doing mom & dad from year to year), have a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and play lots of cards.
My parents are still relatively young (66 & 68), and the good Lord willing we will have many more Christmases all together -- but I can see it becoming more difficult as they age & pass on. It was hard enough adjusting to Christmas without my grandparents there. Right now, it's all about being together & carrying on tradition -- and so long as things stay relatively the same, it's easy to coast along from year to year. But as the people who have taken part in the traditions start passing on and there get to be fewer & fewer of us who remember what it was like, with no younger generation to carry on, I can see it getting more difficult. :(
Our celebrations have not entirely lacked children over the years. The year before my dh & I were married, my parents moved, and their neighbours had a new baby girl. From the time she was in a high chair, she has come to our house for Christmas, and that helped take the heat off me & dh as newlyweds ; ) & compensate for the lack of grandchildren. She even had/has her own stocking at my parents' house! However, even she has grown up -- is now 23 (!), going to university & living with her boyfriend. She still usually makes it over for dinner sometime during the holidays, if not right on Christmas, & we all still fuss over her. ; )
Deanna & Ellen, I know what you both mean in the comments you left on my last post -- on the one hand, why shouldn't we be able to celebrate, even if there's just the two of us? On the other hand, there are times when not having kids gives you permission not to have to "go to all that trouble" when you really don't feel like it, lol.
Not that Christmas is all about presents -- but it does bother me when people say, "Oh, lets not exchange gifts among the adults this year. After all, Christmas is for the kids!" Well, fine for them -- they can cross me & dh off their list then -- but we still have to buy for their kids! And it's not just Christmas -- it's birthday parties, baby showers, first communions & confirmations and high school graduations and then weddings -- and not always for people whose kids I feel very close to, either. It's hard sometimes when you feel like you just keep shelling out & shelling out for other people's kids & get absolutely nothing in return (not even a thank you, sometimes). But perhaps that's fodder for another post...!