I think most of what makes it FEEL like Christmas is based on our childhood memories.
For me, I love a leisurely Christmas morning, with just Chris and the kids. That’s how we always did it growing up, because we lived in the same area as all of our extended family.
However, Chris and I haven’t lived near family in over 13 years. Christmas usually involves traveling.
This makes laid-back Christmas mornings almost impossible.
We have opened presents as a family on Christmas Eve and then headed to the airport. Some Christmas mornings, we’ve woken up in a hotel to a “complimentary” Christmas breakfast. There’s been times the kids opened stockings in the car. We’ve attended Christmas services at the grandparents’ church. One year, we ate Christmas dinner at Waffle House, because it was the only thing open on the way to family.
Every holiday is different. And rarely like Christmases I remember from childhood.
A few years ago, we didn’t travel anywhere for Christmas. I was thrilled. Finally, my nice, peaceful Christmas morning! On the correct date. Just the family.
Except, the kids weren’t impressed. “This is boring.” “I wish we’d gone to see family.” “There’s nothing to do.” “Why did we stay home?”
And I realized my “normal” Christmas wasn’t theirs. To my kids, Christmas is road trips and visiting grandparents in another state. It’s hotels and airports. Luggage and presents all jammed into the trunk. Exploring in the woods of Arkansas or playing in Wisconsin snow.
So now my Christmas expectations are a lot more flexible. We still set aside time for just our family. But it’s ok that we have to work it around the road trip.
It turns out, having a more open mind about what is a “real” Christmas is a good thing.
This year, our traveling took us through the city of an adoptive-mom-friend, so she and I were able to have coffee and chat in person, which was a huge treat. Next, we are headed to spend Christmas with Enoch’s birth family. And we will finish up our holiday trip at Chris’ parents’ house.
So, as much as I love my nostalgic holiday customs, I’m learning that beauty comes in opening up to new kinds of Christmas traditions too. Especially when I see my kids’ joy in making their own memories.