Not a ‘Get’ list or even a ‘To Do’ list.
This time of year, families celebrate the holidays with a myriad of traditions: favorite foods and meals, favorite movies and books, favorite activities. Here’s some of the things we do at our house each year, with a few reasons why I love them. (Just a heads up…some of them might not match up with the customary images of joy and family togetherness.)
The Lion in Winter: Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine celebrate Christmas in France. Except he keeps her imprisoned most of the year, she aids their sons in rebelling against him, and he’s doing the nasty with the future Richard Coeur-de-Lion’s betrothed. And you think your family has rotten holidays.
A Christmas Carol: The version with Patrick Stewart only. Captain Picard as Scrooge! Make it so!
Holiday Inn: Bing Crosby first sang White Christmas in this movie, which premiered in 1942. Fred Astaire co-starred as a rival performer. The movie was remade in 1954, again with Bing, entitled — you guessed it — White Christmas.
Some of these are done in lots of families. Some are very, very different. Allow me to emphasize that no one has ever suffered permanent injury or death as a result of any holiday activity in my home.
Putting up the World’s Biggest Cat Toy: In non-feline homes, this object is referred to as a ‘Christmas tree’. The cats get very excited when they see the boxes and love to help, especially when we’re engaged in weaving the long strings of lights through the branches.
Wrapping presents: Okay, it’s a bit of a chore, and the cats like to help with this, too. But if you’ve got company, it’s fun to outdo each other in disguising gifts with unique packaging. We once convinced my youngest that she was getting the world’s largest piece of salt-water taffy. (It was a pillow made by my oldest.) And who knew duct tape could be so festive!
Christmas Eve at my in-laws: Pandemonium! 25 people on my hubby’s side, including some small children. Potluck buffet, champagne, and little ones asking if it’s time for presents every five minutes. It’s a blast!
Late Christmas Eve Service: The celebration of Christ’s birth moves me every year. The service ends with the congregation singing ‘Silent Night’ as the lights dim. With the altar candles glowing in the darkened church, I reflect on how small the lights of Grace and Mercy are in our world, and yet how brightly they shine.
Christmas Brunch with my family: More pandemonium, particularly if my sisters are visiting. Let’s just say we tend to get creative with ribbons and bows once they’re off the gifts. My mother says we look silly, but we ignore her.
Sparring matches: These break out periodically over Christmas season between my daughters, both of whom are testing for their black belts in taekwondo this month. They spar over who gets which of my ornaments when I’m dead, over who gets to use the prettiest wrapping paper first, and over the last dinner roll. Among other things.