Christmas doesn’t have to be elaborate. Here’s how one family celebrates a simple Christmas.
By April Lewis, Contributing Writer
Holidays and family traditions … two words synonymous with warm fuzzies and memories alike.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate the simplicity of enjoying those you love.
I think we all make the mistake of getting too caught up in the commercialism of life in general. But commercialism during the holidays is on a whole different level than that of just keeping up with the Joneses.
When my son was younger we celebrated Christmas as Jesus’ birthday and he got three presents. I took all kinds of flak from even family members over this decision. But it was important to me that he learn from a very young age what Christmas was truly about. Then he could carry it with him no matter where life took him as he grew older.
As he grew up and started being around more children and other families he learned all the traditional tales and traditions of mainstream Christmas celebrations. He asked me one day, “Mom, can I believe in Santa this year like my friends do?” I told him of course he could. As long as he remembered the real reason behind why we celebrate Christmas. And he was always careful not to spill the beans so he wouldn’t ruin the fun for other kids.
Now he’s 19, a young man. And he’s starting to appreciate the simplicity of the holidays with me. It’s about celebrating our faith and being with those we love.
Staying in touch with loved ones
Life moves fast these days and we don’t get to be with family and friends as much as we’d like. We miss opportunities to connect and keep bonds strong over the miles. If we aren’t proactive with staying in touch then our loved ones become the forgotten ones in our rush to live our lives.
And then some are taken way too soon, like my grandmother. She was the glue that held our whole family together. And being the matriarch, a lot of the food traditions for family holidays revolved around her and her great feasts. When she passed we decided we’d start a new tradition: We stopped cooking and started connecting more.
At Christmas we don’t cook a big dinner, or even a nice luncheon. On Christmas Eve we are all hands on deck in the kitchen making our favorite appetizers: traditional sausage balls, kale dip, marinated crackers, bacon wrapped smokies, cream cheese balls, etc. Even the little kids help with cooking and clean up. We have some hot chocolate, watch some Christmas movies, and head to bed early.
Our Christmas Day
The baby wakes everyone up usually around 4 or 5 a.m. and the fun begins. We stop long enough to make coffee while everyone gets the sleep out of their eyes. Then in order of age we take turns unwrapping presents.
Everyone is there: my son and I, my sister, her husband, and their three kids, my brother and his girlfriend, and my mom. It takes a few hours to get through everyone and clean up the strewn wrapping paper.
Usually the men help the kids get presents out of their packaging, build things, install batteries, etc.
And the women cook breakfast. We have a simple breakfast casserole that cooks everything in one huge dish all together: Canadian bacon, eggs, mushrooms, onions, peppers, cheese, biscuits, etc. We make gravy and have juice to go along with the casserole. Then we put a ham on to bake and make potato salad. That’s all the Christmas cooking we do.
The rest of the day there’s only TV on for the Christmas parade and/or Christmas music playing in the background. No technology devices allowed, no local news, no interruptions, just focused one on one attention with our whole family.
We snack on the appetizers we made. And when the ham is done we have ham sandwiches with potato salad. When early evening rolls around, that’s when the board game fun starts. We usually stay awake until 2 a.m. or there about.
We talk, laugh, make fun, share memories, and sometimes we cry. But we always bond. And we talk about Christmas for months afterward on the phone and wish we lived closer so we can do it more often.
Going home for Christmas
It’s a must in our family, going home for Christmas. It takes us back to a simpler time when there were rotary phones and 8 tracks, reminds us of where we came from, teaches our kids about true life, not about popular society and commercialism.
That’s my family’s Christmas tradition, simply being with loved ones and enjoying our time together celebrating this amazing life God has given us all.
May He bless you and yours this holiday season. Merry Christmas!