Sunday, December 20, 2009

Family Tradition

There has not been a Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa S's, that I have missed in my 33 years of age.

When I was young this Christmas was celebrated on Christmas Eve. Come rain, snow, sleet or hail, we were there. I remember the snow being so deep that I worried that we wouldn't make it to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Once, we almost didn't.

After being pulled out of the ditch, we carried on our way.

As a child I remember everyone sitting down at a feast. A feast. There really was no other word for it. There was more food than you can imagine.

And we used real dishes. And glasses. And silverware.

This, of course, was torture.

You see, as a child, it was a well known fact that the presents couldn't be opened until the table was cleared and the dishes were washed. It took FOREVER!

The kids would then gather around and one of the older grandkids would play "Santa" and pass out all of the presents.

After the gifts were opened, adults and kids alike, visited and told stories, some of them for the thousandth time. Then when everyone started winding down, it was time to bundle up and head out as everyone went to Midnight Mass. Together.


I can say without hesitation that these times were some of the best of my life.


Our family is a diverse group of people. All the same and all VERY different. Honestly, I am quite sure that if not related, there are several that wouldn't choose to spend their holiday season together.

But they do. And they get along. And during this time they find allegiances and common ground.

And I love this.

My favorite part is drifting from room to room, hearing what everyone was talking about and what stories were being retold for the 33rd time.

Last time I counted there were over 50 people that celebrated with us. Together in a house that is maybe 1000 sq feet.

The house looks the same as it did 33 years ago. Most of the furniture is the same too. Same curtains, same dishes, same cups.

However, now that the group has increased dramatically in size, those cups and dishes stay put in the cabinet and they use plastic dinnerware.

I believe that this is the sole reason that this current generation lacks patience.

This, however, is only a small example of the way that time has a way of changing things.


Grandpa passed away in 1998. He was one of the biggest kids there were. Even in his 80's, he loved Christmas like a child.

Grandma is now 91 years old.

Her mind is all but gone.

An aunt came to live with her several months ago and Grandma keeps forgetting that they live there and believes that they are visiting. Her memory spans only a few moments.

This year as I was preparing food I thought of how I loved this time....and how it made parts of the person I am now.

I knew that with Grandma's health and age, there was a distinct possibility of this being the last Christmas celebrated with Grandma S. Although it pains me to admit it, with the passing of Grandma, will most likely be the passing of this tradition.


Late last night and into this morning, L was stricken by the stomach flu. In fact, I am currently writing this while lying next to her in bed while watching "Eloise-Miss Merry Christmas", while Steven and B are at Grandma's eating and visiting with family.

Although as a mother, there is nowhere else I would rather be than with my child, I think that this serves as a blatant reminder that we should never take for granted that which we hold dear. Just yesterday I was thinking how this year's Christmas celebration at Grandma's might be my last and how it pained me to think of it as even a possibility, and now I am thinking about how LAST year's Christmas celebration might have been.

Who knows, I hope there are many more and I hope Grandma is there with us at them.

However, as a realist I know that time passes and things change.


With each new day comes a strong reminder that I am no longer the child I used to be.......


ExamBo said...

As usual your post made me cry. It amazed me how similar our childhoods were. My family celebrated the same way yours did. Same as your family, the grandkids had to do the dishes before ever opening presents. The one thing you didn't mention that I will ALWAYS remember about our Christmas eve celebrations is so many people being there that the littlest kids had to sit on coffe cans for chairs at dinner becasue there were not enough seats. How I miss those times..... ever since Grandpa C passed away my extended family tried to keep this tradition alive, but last year was the first year that my family didn't celebrate Christmas eve. Time does change all, but I will always cherish our Christmas eve celebrations as one big family. I hope you do too.

Manda said...

im going through that tradition change right now and i dont like it...but i hold tight to the memories and i anxiously await future traditions and memories i can create for my children. i hold those memories of christmas eve at neenaw and papaws very dear, and i will strive to create a similar memory for my kids..and i know you will too!