Saturday, December 29, 2007

Death of a Christmas tradition

Christmas was different for me this year, but it was good. It's always wonderful. It's definitely my favorite holiday, and a long standing favorite day out of the whole year. I've been thinking about what makes this day so special for my family, aside from the pat Bible answer, "It's Jesus' birthday." I think it's because I'm a person who loves traditions. I take delight in doing things over and over again every year - things I can come to count on and look forward to. My family doesn't have a whole lot of traditions that I've been able to anticipate over the years...except for Christmas. Christmas has always been the same, it's always been a happy time, and it's always held great traditions. This year was just as fabulous...except for the end of one of our family's Christmas traditions...
The breakdown of our Christmas goes like this: dinner at Nandy's house on Christmas Eve with all of my dad's side of the family, then opening presents over there, and sitting around talking and loving on each other :) Christmas morning, having a Christmas breakfast of big, fat cinnamon rolls at my parents' house, then opening presents there, and playing a combo of Christmas music and any CDs anyone got in their stockings while using, trying on, or playing with our new stuff. Then we all pack up and head to Dallas to have Christmas lunch and spend the rest of the day with my mom's side of the family, including her parents, my three aunts/uncles, my four cousins, and their families. The "adults" sit at one table and the "kids" sit at another, and we always have the same basic assortment of foods: ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, some kind of slightly congealed fruit jello thing, green beans, rolls and pecan pie. We open presents after lunch, and then we play all kinds of board games: Spinner, Chicken, Trivial Pursuit, Uno, etc. Sometimes after this, a bunch of us go back into Granny and Grandpa's room and get out the old family videos and watch them on their little TV. And finally...the Christmas tradition that came to an end this year: the Adult vs. Kids Kickball Game. My Granny's front yard is small, and the kickball we always used was actually a small, thin rubber ball (like the ones you begged for in the grocery store as a kid - NOT an actual kickball). When we were little, the adult men (my dad and two uncles) along with the adult women (my mom and her two sisters) played against the six cousins. My dad and uncles would kick our tails by kicking the ball all the way into the yards of neighbors 3-4 houses down. By the time we reached the ball and threw it back it, they'd ran all the way around the bases. We cousins tried our best to keep up, but always lost, up until I (the oldest cousin) turned about seventeen. The rest of the cousins were 16, 15, 14, 12, and 8 at that time, and the boys were old enough to kick the ball several houses down just like their dads. We finally won a game that year and were more ecstatic about that win than all of our Christmas presents put together. We played a few more years, and husbands and wives of the cousins entered the game. And then this year, Bennett, the first (and only, so far) of the fourth generation, joined the scene. The kids are adults themselves now. So as you can probably guess, our annual kickball game did not take place. Nobody brought a change of shoes and clothes, and the kickball was flat. Bennett had to be taken care of, and none of the "kids" brought up the idea of playing. So there's the death of my family's Christmas tradition.
It made me wonder how many other traditions will die out as our family dynamics continue to change. It also made me want to start new traditions for my own family - for Bennett, for the next generation. Here are some things I'd like to do with my own family that I've never done before: sing Christmas songs, read the story of the birth of Jesus on Christmas day, drink eggnog, watch a specific Christmas movie every year (maybe on Christmas Eve), getting a new ornament for Bennett every year that holds significance or is symbolic. So next year, before Christmas rolls around, I'm going to map out a plan for starting new traditions to replace the old ones :) Hopefully that way I won't be quite so sad the next time I experience the death of a Christmas tradition.
I'd really like to know what special and unique Christmas traditions you guys have with your families (but don't share if you don't want to risk the possibility of me stealing your ideas for my own family).

**Christmas pictures coming soon!