Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Here's to living in the present, not for the presents

When I was a child we opened presents on Christmas Eve, and us kids awoke to bulging stockings Christmas morning. I didn't realize until much later that this perfect arrangement came to us compliments of my Swedish heritage through my maternal grandmother. Perfect? Yes; let me count the ways:
1) Candles and Christmas lights all look prettier at night.
2) Evening gatherings are coziest, and most conducive to story-telling.
3) There are no distractions from an empty tummy.
3) A child can actually fall asleep on Christmas Eve with the gift-giving over.
4) Filling stockings with inexpensive little treasures for the kids to discover as EARLY as they want to lets the adults sleep in Christmas morning!
5) Opening presents Christmas Eve leaves more time on Christmas Day for the cooks of the family to prepare the Christmas feast.

Unfortunately, I have never been able to convince my steeped-in-different-traditions husband to see the perfection of my childhood Christmases. He feels that opening more than one present each on Christmas Eve is "cheating." (Bah humbug!)

Not that it would make that much difference in our lives whose traditions we follow. Because Rick must sometimes be on call for emergencies (as he is this Christmas) and ALL our immediate family lives in other states, we often celebrate Christmas several times and places each year. This year we celebrated in November when Rick's mom visited us, again with Rick's sister and family when we visited them in Nebraska, and hopefully first thing tomorrow morning, just the three of us. We WERE going to each open a present tonight while indulging in Christmas goodies (those I made Sunday and the fresh cranberries I enrobed in chocolate yesterday),but Rick got called out to sew up a badly cut horse before we had the chance. Good thing I wasn't expecting a Christmas Eve from my childhood, huh?

This is one of the gifts Brian received from his grandma in November - perfect in its beauty, perfect in its timing. Just like all of God's gifts to us!

Wishing you a blessed Christmas Eve and Christmas from . . .

8 comments:

TigereyeSal said...

You are such a sweetheart, Michelle. You and your blog add much joy to my life.

Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deb said...

Michelle,
Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!
Hopefully all the animals will be healthy and whole today and Rick's services will not be needed :)

MaskedMan said...

Merry Christmas!

Tradtions are traditions, not straitjackets. Adapt as you must, the important part is the feeling of the season.

A :-) said...

Merry Christmas my friend :-)

Tammy said...

Merry Christmas Michelle! We also open our 'main' gifts on Christmas eve. However ours evolved that way for a different reason---as a kid we always went to both Grandmothers (my Grandpas both passed away before I knew them)on Christmas day. My Mom and Dad got tired of having to rush through 'our' Christmas so they moved it to Christmas eve. Took some convincing of us kids, as we were sure Santa couldn't get there that soon!
Take care,
Tammy

Mim said...

Merry Christmas, Michelle!

Pamela said...

Growing up, our Christmas tradition came from my mother's side of the family. Christmas Eve was always the gift-opening time. We would open all our wrapped gifts (family gifts) precisely at 7:00 then have the "party". Lots of fancy snacks and dips and things like that rather than a sit-down meal.

Christmas morning our Santa gifts were under the tree all set up and ready to play with instead of wrapped.

I have no idea where the custom came from as my mother's family was Irish rather than Swedish. It did come in handy, though. Since the wrapping paper and all was out of the way on Christmas Eve, it meant she didn't have to deal with all that mess while trying to get Christmas Dinner on the table. (All our relatives lived far away so it was usually just our family for Christmas.)

When I got married, it also helped out as we could go to my parents' house for Christmas Eve and stay until about midnight. We could drive the two hours home, catch a bit of sleep then go the hour or so over to my husband's family in time to be there for Christmas morning.

And now it's still paying off. Since one of us has to be here to feed and take care of the animals, my husband and I have our Christmas (complete with party buffet for 2) on Christmas Eve then he usually catches a flight out Christmas morning to head to Texas for his family's celebration. This year he was driving from TN to TX so, for the first time in several years, we had Christmas Day together. Very strange....we didn't really know what to do with it. :)

While we were living overseas, we had a Swedish friend, and that was the first time I had ever run into anyone who did Christmas like we did--opening ALL the non-Santa gifts on Christmas Eve. I have always wondered how the tradition could have gotten started in my mother's family--Irish living in central Oklahoma is very far from Sweden. I remember asking when I was young, but no one knew. It was just always like that. Strange, huh?