Saturday, December 24, 2016
We Were Not a Christmas Eve Family ... Back When ...
We were not a Christmas Eve family when I was growing up. We were a Christmas Day family. I had a few boyhood friends (weirdos, all) whose family tradition involved opening presents on Christmas Eve. And I knew of others (less weirdo, but still weirdo) who got to open one present on Christmas Eve. And--oh!--the anxiety they faced! Should they go for the Big One the night before? Or settle for something that is probably a package of thank-you notes from Grandma? Fortunately, I never had to face such an existential crisis.
Later, of course, I grew more and more aware of the folly of assuming that my family traditions were the right (moral, correct, Jesus-blessed) ones and those of other families were the wrong (immoral, incorrect, Satan-blessed) ones.
Once I got married (December 20, 1969), I had to grow more ... flexible. When we were first married, my parents lived in Des Moines, Iowa, 700 miles from our apartment in Kent, Ohio. Joyce's parents were just a half-hour away in Akron's Firestone Park. Joyce and I sort of settled on spending one of the two major holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) with my family, one with hers--though it didn't always work out that way.
When our son got married in 1999, it was a bit more complicated. His wife's family lived mostly in the Youngstown area, so Steve and his wife and children have sometimes bounced around, visiting both families on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. They love having a big Christmas morning at their own house, and I think that's great. Memories the kids will never forget. Occasionally, Steve, et al. will drive to Becket, Mass., where my brothers and Mom are (she's in nearby Lenox); sometimes we're there, sometimes not. As I've gotten older (and on an energy-sapping med), we've driven out there fewer and fewer times; it's about 550 miles, somewhat beyond me these days, I fear. And the unreliable weather ... and the Wuss Factor.
Anyway, in a few hours we will be a Christmas Eve family. Steve, Melissa, Logan, and Carson are coming over late in the afternoon for supper and Opening. And, really, seeing them is the only gift I can't wait to open.