Here we are on the verge of another holiday – I’m thinking back on Christmas Traditions of years past.
Over the years we have had many Christmases in many places. Our first Christmas as a family was in Virginia. My husband was “lucky” enough to have gotten assigned to “CQ” duty that night. He spent 24 hours sitting at a desk in a hall. We opened our meager presents the day before and celebrated as best we could in our little apartment. It was wonderful.
Our next Christmas was spent in Georgia at my sister-in-laws with all of the family. Family which included our brand new baby girl! Since then we have had Christmas in Tennessee, Germany, North Carolina, Alaska and now Alabama.
It is interesting how when you meld two families together, you will have different traditions that you grew up with. Sometimes you’ll carry on the traditions from one side of the family or the other – sometimes you’ll make up your own.
My husband and his sisters would wake Christmas morning to find their doors tied shut. Mom & Dad would have their coffee…and savor the moments before the craziness began on Christmas morning. No amount of carrying on or “I have to use the bathroom!-s” would get them to open that door until the determined time.
In my family, it often looked like this: Christmas Mass on Christmas Eve, “Santa” would get a head start and deliver presents while we were at church, and we would come home to presents everywhere. We would open all of our gifts on Christmas Eve. Then the next morning, we could get up at the crack of dawn and play with our new toys. My parents could sleep in a little before my mom got up and got started on the big Christmas supper for the extended family, while we watched the parades on TV. Dad got out the leaves for the table and we all squeezed in for an early afternoon meal. Then it was relaxing and hanging out with the relatives the rest of the day.
Now when it came to our own traditions, my husband and I bickered (playfully) back and forth about whether presents should be opened on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. He often insisted that it had to be Christmas morning like when he grew up…but would often relent to opening one present on Christmas Eve (usually picked by Mom, and usually new pajamas.) Then as everyone looked at their new gift and picked up the wrapping paper…Dad would be heard saying, “okay one more present!” One more – more often than not – turned into all of the presents on Christmas Eve. I love how that worked.
One year we celebrated Christmas on Thanksgiving. Why? Because my husband was home for R&R from Afghanistan. He wouldn’t be there for Christmas, but he was for Thanksgiving. You take what you can get! Another year he was coming home for R&R from Iraq, and was supposed to arrive on Christmas Eve day. Except the plane broke and he and the rest of his travelers ended up stuck at an airport in Ireland. Stuck until the manager of the airport found out about these American soldiers that were stranded there for Christmas. That wouldn’t do! He got together a group of people who came and picked them all up and took them to the pub that his brother owned. There these stranded soldiers were fed a great meal and housed and treated to Irish hospitality. The next day they all got on the plane and came home. A day late, but safe and sound! That is all that matters.
For me personally, I find that dates aren’t that terribly important. Can’t be there for your anniversary – we’ll celebrate the week before. Not going to be home for Christmas – we’ll have it when you are here. For the military family, your traditions have to be a little flexible. Uncle Sam doesn’t care too much about dates on a calendar… only the dates on the mission calendar.
Sometimes traditions are only for a season. When we lived in Alaska, we had a tradition of going to the North Pole Christmas every year. North Pole was the town right next to Fairbanks and well…Santa lived there! Every year they had an ice sculpting event and you could go, have hot cocoa and enjoy the beautiful sculptures…
Sit on Mr. & Mrs. Claus’ ice chairs…
And go sledding on the ice track.
Afterwards, you could go into the nearby Santa Clause house…and see the man himself!
Actually, you could go see him 364 days a year! One day a year he was a little busy elsewhere.
It was wonderful while it lasted. Have I mentioned how much I love snow…and loved Alaska? In case you hadn’t heard.
Last year we spent Christmas in Georgia with my in-laws. It was the first time we had had a holiday together in several years. It was nice seeing the family. I supposed trading the snow for this is a more than fair trade!
Crazy as they may be.
This year will be our official first Christmas spent in Alabama. My daughter is now married and having her first Christmas in North Carolina – as a married woman.
How quickly things change, and new traditions begin!
Has your family had any traditions that they have done every year? What traditions have you started of your own? What is your favorite Christmas memory?
Share your stories!
Compensation for this post was provided by Operation In Touch via MSB New Media. Operation In Touch offers special savings, coupons, recipes, beauty tips, and editorial content tailored to the lives of active military families. To find out more, check out theirwebsite or find them on Facebook and Pinterest. All opinions expressed are my own.