The Holidays and Family
By, Diane Burton
Several holidays occur in December: Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Mawlid, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. Each holiday is celebrated with friends and family.
Although I researched the holidays, my only experience is with Christmas. Celebrating the Savior’s birth should be (not always is) the focus of this holy day. Church services on Christmas Eve run from a children’s service around 5 pm to Midnight Mass. Many churches also have services on Christmas Day. All to remind us of what we’re really celebrating.
Not so for kids. We knew the Christmas story. We went to church. In reality, all we thought of were the gifts. As a child, I anxiously awaited not just Santa, of course, but the big box from my grandparents in St. Louis. Written on the top of that box were the words “Do Not Open Until Christmas!” Oh, the excitement, the eagerness, the impatience for that day to come.
Hubs’ Christmases were quite different from mine. Though we went to church, had breakfast, opened presents, played with toys, had a big meal then back to our gifts, we stayed home. Hubs came from a smaller family. He was an only child. I’m the oldest of seven. He had four aunts (plus two older cousins) and they all gathered for the main meal at an aunt’s house—when all he wanted to do was stay home and play with his toys.
When we were first married, we spent Christmas Eve with his parents (and family) and Christmas Day with mine. As more of us married and had children, we still gathered at my parents for the main meal on Christmas Day. Remembering his childhood, Hubs wanted to stay home and let our kids play. We (sort of) compromised. Until we moved out of state. That’s when I really missed the big family get-togethers. Almost every year, my in-laws made the long trip from Michigan to Missouri to celebrate Christmas with us. Moving back to Michigan six years later meant more family getting together at Christmas time. In fact, one of my favorite photos is that of my entire family—all seven of us, our twelve children, and my parents. It was the last family picture with my dad.
My granddaughter, whom I affectionately call Toddler Girl, saw the enlarged picture in the bedroom where she naps and said, “Who’s that?” (I think she was procrastinating that nap. LOL) So, I took down the picture and pointed to the people she knew. She had a hard time figuring out the man with dark brown hair was her now white haired (and bearded) grandfather. But the hardest one was seeing her daddy as a young teen. Now she wants me to take down the picture and name the people every time she comes.
As I write this, I’m reminded of those days gone by. Of Christmas dinners around the tablecloth-covered ping-pong table in my parents’ basement. Of sharing food and reminiscences and picture taking. Family gathering together to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
This year is so special to me. My immediate family—two adult children and their spouses plus five grandchildren—will spend Christmas together. Like Thanksgiving, this will be our first time in nearly twenty years. My family all together. Going to the children’s Christmas Eve service. Eating Chinese take-out. Driving around and looking at the lights and displays on houses and lawns. Most importantly, being together as a family. That’s what makes this holiday so precious.
No matter which holiday you celebrate, I wish you and your family a special time with family and friends.
Meet the Author
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website.
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You can read Diane's "Family Life" column the 3rd Wednesday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette. What holiday do you celebrate this time of year?