It’s the ultimate hype of the holiday season. Christmas Eve. Most shopping is done, gifts are wrapped and under the tree. Tonight is the big Christmas Eve dinner or party, followed by all the joys Christmas Day.
I had your typical holiday season growing up. We traveled to see grandparents, usually saw both sides of the family. It was a huge Irish Catholic party (read lots of alcohol) — chaotic in the best way — on one side, then quiet and calm on the other side (my dad is an only child). I grew up Catholic so we would go to church. Usually midnight mass. And on my dad’s side they were Episcopalian which is actually really similar to being Catholic.
We always had a tree, made Christmas cookies, did everything you typically do. Nowadays things are a little different. My brother, sister and I are all married. We all live in different cities — me in DC, my brother in Athens right outside of Atlanta, and my sister in Kansas City with the rest of my family. So we each have our spouse’s families and geography to deal with over the holidays, so don’t always get to see each other (sad face).
Even though the holidays aren’t religious to me anymore, they still have meaning and are a special time of year. To me, the holidays mean spending time with the people I love — my family and friends. Traditions like the Christmas tree, making Christmas cookies, watching holiday movies, hanging lights, decorating, a huge Christmas Eve dinner, a movie on Christmas Day — all still apply to me and I enjoy them as it’s really just spending that quality time with the people I love that matters.
I actually don’t like to use the word Christmas because not everyone celebrates Christmas. I try to say holidays as much as it works in context. Some things about Christmas do bother me — mostly just the crazy pressure of gift giving that I think people get wrapped up in. I actually really enjoy thinking of a cool gift someone will actually like and giving it to them. I love wrapping it up in pretty paper, and sending it in the mail if I’m not there. But I think it can easily get out of hand. I try to be more thoughtful than expensive when it comes to gifts. Kids just do not need that many toys. I intentionally don’t get my niece and nephew toys (unless it’s something amazing). I’ll get them clothes, books, or something for the family. This year I got them this quick pop maker. It’s something that they’ll be able to use as a family for years — not some toy they play with for two hours then it gets lost in the play room.
Last year my Mr. surprised me with a last minute trip to NYC for Christmas Eve and Day. This year we are staying put in DC. We’ll be hanging out with friends that are in town here and there, but mostly just a quiet time to ourselves, reading, writing, working. Yes, working. I love what I do, so since I’m not with family this year, I’ll be using this time to get some things finished (my ebooks!). But there will also be cooking, reading, sleeping in, watching a movie or two (or ten thanks to Netflix), and spending lots of time with my husband!
What do the holidays mean to you? What are your plans this season?