Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Family Celebrations

I was just thinking about how our family Christmas celebrations have changed over the years. As parts of the family added children, older family members died, and spouses were added the who, when, and where varied.

Until I had been married a few years Christmas Eve was always celebrated with my Dad’s side of the family. This meant Grandma and Grandpa Stuart, Aunt Dorothy’s family, and Aunt Jean’s family. Christmas Day was celebrated with Mom’s side of the family. When I was very young that included my Grandma and Grandpa Hanley, Aunt Jeanie, Grandaunt Catherine, and even my great grandmother we called Nana. In the late 1950s
my Mom’s sister Jeanie’s family would join us. That is the day that changed most dramatically as many of the elderly relatives died. Jeanie’s family grew and they didn’t venture out to join us.

My Grandma Gert Hanley lived until 1999 and until the last couple years of her life she always joined us on Christmas Day. She loved Christmas. We spent many of those Christmas’ at my sister’s home. They built it so that Grandma’s wheelchair could get into the house.

When my older two children were very young we still spent Christmas Eve with my Dad’s two sisters and their families. Christmas Day was spent at both my parents home and with my husband’s family. As our family grew and the kids found it a bit trying to leave their own presents and celebrating too early in the day we split Christmas between the families. Then we would celebrate Christmas Eve with my husband’s family and Christmas Day with my family. For many years they came to our home. This included my in-laws, my mother-in-law’s sister and brother, my husbands’ sister and brother and their growing families.

This is the second Christmas without either of my parents. I still find it difficult to celebrate without them. This year my older two children and their families will celebrate with me on Christmas Eve. My daughter and her family will stay overnight and I get to see the excitement of those three children on Christmas morning.

I always wanted to have Christmas at my own home for my parents, siblings, and their families. However, the many steps into my home prevented this due to the many years my grandmother and mother were in wheelchairs. That house was big enough for a real party. Now I am in a much smaller place but my daughter has convinced me that I do have room to have my family over for brunch on December 26th. I am looking forward to that.

I am guessing that Christmas celebrations have changed for your families over the years, too. It’s part of the normal changes in the life of any family. Whatever you do for your Christmas celebration, even if it isn’t on the exact day, be sure to hug those family members and let them know you love them. This works well by phone, too. for those who don’t live near you.

© 2010 – 2014, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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