WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS TO ME

What Christmas means to me - it's really all about family isn't it?

HOW IT STARTED

My blogging friend Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 and Beyond asked me to write a couple of paragraphs to be included with some other bloggers in a post on What Christmas Means to Me. I started to put some thoughts together and found it really hard to condense down to a short, pithy paragraph or two. I sent off my abridged version to her but thought I'd really like to write a post of my own with the same title and so this is it.

THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

My very first thought about Christmas is that it's a time to remember the birth of Jesus and what that means to us. We've always attended church on Christmas morning before all the festivities get underway - our kids got to open a few little gifts from Santa, but nothing big until we got home and launched into the family side of things.

The last several years have been a little bit different, there are no kids at home anymore and no Santa sacks. We changed churches and the one we attend now has a Christmas Eve service to take some of the pressure off Christmas Day. It's a very pleasant way to get together and sing some carols and listen to the nativity story but it makes our Christmas mornings very quiet these days.

NATIVITY SCENE

We also have a nativity scene that has pride of place on our sideboard. It has been added to over the years with various random animals who seem to turn up to check out baby Jesus and his parents. I originally added the three wise men and a camel, but the others have magically appeared over time and seem to enjoy being part of the scene - it always gives our visitors a smile when they notice the llama or the walrus.

our Christmas nativity scene - complete with a few additional animals!

FAMILY

The other MAJOR part of Christmas for me is gathering together as a family and also as an extended family. I have always loved the lead up to Christmas - buying gifts, setting up the tree, discussing who is bringing what to the various family meals, and just sharing the joy of this time of the year. It was so easy when the kids were little and we could be together as a family in the morning and then go on to whatever family events were happening in the evening and on Boxing Day.

But times change, our kids grew up and moved out. We were always blessed to have them return home for Christmas together when they were uni students - and they stayed on to have a holiday break in the country. Then they both got married within a year of each other and things changed again. They had two lots of families to juggle, double the family and quadruple the extended families - quite a big undertaking.

Our family Christmas - 2016
Last Christmas:   1) us - 2) our grandbaby - 3) our son and DIL - 4) our daughter and SIL - 6) my Mum

COMPROMISE

Now Christmas is about finding a compromise that works for everyone. We have accepted that Christmas may end up being Boxing Day at our place - especially if it means that they can stay on for a few days before heading back to the city. It has often been a fairly stressful lead-up as we've tried to find a time when everyone can be in the same place at the same time for a meal - not easy with all the conflicting commitments!

This year we are extra thrilled because our son and daughter-in-law and delightful grandbaby are coming down on Christmas Day - the first one they've had with us since they've been married (they normally come down on Boxing Day). I'm surprised at how pleased I am - and also quite aware that it will be a one-off but a lovely change for us all. It also gives them the chance to spend time with the side of the family that gets together on Christmas Night for a meal.

All good things often have a counterweight and ours is that our daughter and son-in-law are re-evaluating their Christmas rush and are cutting back on how many family things they involve themselves in this year. They tend to feel swamped by having to attend so many different events and won't be around this year.

THE NEXT GENERATION

Christmas was so special last year when we got to spend it with an 8 month old baby - it brings back all the simple pleasures. This year she will be 20 months old and will enjoy it even more - I can't wait to see her opening her presents and meeting her extended cousins on Christmas Night. 

Life changes all the time - every Christmas is different - some have been quite stressful for me, others have been a breeze. Ultimately it comes back to time together as a family - making it a priority to spend time together eating too much, laughing at the same old stories, wearing silly hats, and appreciating all we have. I love Christmas - it is one of my favourite times of the year because it brings with it so much joy and contentment - it has something for everyone if we relax and take time to enjoy it with those we love.

What Christmas means to me - it's really all about family isn't it?



This post was shared at some of these great link parties

To keep up to date with my posts, feel free to add your email into the spot especially for it on my sidebar and I'd love you to follow me on Facebook



21 comments

  1. Beautifully written Leanne, you have summed it up well. Yes it is a stressful time of year, but only if you let it be. Take deep breaths and count to ten when things are closing in on you. We do have a weird and wonderful mix of personalities around the table at Christmas. Just go with the flow and think positive, it will all work out and be a wonderful family time together. Mum. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's all about focusing on what you have and not thinking about what's missing or what you wish for. I'm getting better at it as time goes by (and I'm getting more practice!) Family is paramount and I'll take all the weird and wonderful :) xx

      Delete
  2. I love your nativity scene - I'd like to think that's how it could have been - with a rhino & a llama and a dinosaur. Happy Christmas to you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure they would have been there if they could have Jo so I'm happy for them to be part of our story :) - and a Happy Christmas right back to you too x

      Delete
  3. Hi, Leanne -

    Thank you for sharing this extended version of what Christmas means to you. I am happy to hear that your son and daughter-in-law and grandbaby are able to spend Christmas Day with you.

    I agree that our holiday traditions change over time. This year our four sons, our three DILs, our two grandchildren, my parents and our grand-dog are all spending time together with my husband and I at a rustic ski chalet. One of my DILs (who is also a blogger) has agreed to write about this experience for her Guest Post on my site (December 31). Stay tuned!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm looking forward to that post already Donna - my DIL thought about blogging but her green thumb has her outside more than inside in front of her screen so it never seemed to come to fruition. Love the idea of a ski lodge and so many family members together - very special!

      Delete
  4. I had to learn the lesson of letting Christmas be what it needs to be once the children are adults and have their own kids...and they have a set of in-laws. So our Christmases have morphed into various celebrations with or without everyone present. The one thing I probably enjoyed the most about Christmas when we still lived near our families was that I got to comandeer the grandchildren for 'decorate Grandma's and Papa's tree morning. Parents happily dropped the kids off and we were in our element. Each grandchild had their own box of decorations which I bought each Christmas once they were born. Most had some kind of frame for a photo and the kids loved looking at themselves. When we knew were were leaving Sydney and no longer doing this tradition, each of the grandkids got their decorations in a special box to add to their tree or keep for memories of Christmas at our place. We also decorated with lights and more and it was a wonderful time which they tell me they remember well!! Thank you for linking up for the LAST #lifethisweek in 2017. I look forward to seeing you back linking up when you can, and 2018 prompts kick off on 1.1.18 and are already on the home page. Sending all festive wishes to you, Denyse xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we need to let things go as we get older Denyse - they hurt our hearts, but that doesn't change things so we need to focus on the joy and those who are with us and make the most of those special moments. I think the people who don't care are the ones who ultimately miss out and that makes me a little bit sad - but I guess these traditions mean different things to different people (love your grandies and their Christmas baubles!)

      Delete
  5. I love your nativity scene Leanne. It is hard when the children become adults with their own lives. As you know we have our family Christmas a week before and I'm happy with that. Everyone can enjoy themselves without having to rush off to somewhere else. You will enjoy Sophia this year so make sure you take lots of photos. My family laugh at me but indulge me with having their Christmas photos with us each year. It is lovely to look back at the memories. Have a happy and holy Christmas, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think your family get together looked fabulous Sue - my problem is that I want everyone to see Christmas the same way I do, and I have to learn over and over that it's not necessarily the case. Traditions change and we take the best that's on offer. I'm so excited to spend time with our son, DIL and Sophia - that is the heart of Christmas for me - and yes, I'll definitely need to take a photo or two.

      Delete
  6. You have a beautiful family! I know what you mean about each Christmas being different and yet special in its own way. For many years my husband and I traveled to various places to be with family. Now, we have Christmas in our own home and it is a much smaller and quieter affair. Sometimes, I miss the "hectic" part of
    Christmas but each one is certainly special.
    Debbie@debbiethisandthat.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Part of me wants to keep Christmas unchanged Deb but it is impossible with more people in the family and more distance apart. I want to gather everyone together for one of those Hallmark moments, but you take the best of what's on offer and I'm so grateful for the family who can be with us and who want to share the day with us.

      Delete
  7. Having the Grand Baby close for Christmas, how wonderful and special for you! I like things to change a bit because then it is remembered more. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a nice way to look at it Haralee - I hadn't thought about change being a positive thing (I seem to be quite resistant to it at times!) I will definitely be looking at it as a great way to create memories now.

      Delete
  8. I'd like to say that Christmas time is more spiritual than anything else. And I work hard to make it so. However, having to work hard to make it spiritual lets me know that Christmas is still first and foremost about the presents, the parties, the bright lights, and all things not spiritual. I am a work in progress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm the same Beth - I try to keep the "reason for the season" in mind, but it's so easy to get distracted by all the family time and fun. I guess resisting consumerism is part of the process for me - but those Christmas lights and carols suck me in every time!

      Delete
  9. I love learning about how others enjoy the holiday and yours are lovely.
    Carol Cassara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Carol - I hope you and your lovely husband have a wonderful Christmas time together - I'm sure you'll make it special x

      Delete
  10. Leanne, I posted a comment just now and got booted into cyber space. Trying again! If you get a second post feel free to delete one! I'm super excited for this year as our whole family (apart from our eldest grandson who is stuck in the States working for his green card) will be together for the first time ever. Awesome! Have a very happy Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate when that happens Shirley - thanks so much for having a second go at it! I loved reading your post about your family all gathering together for Christmas - such a wonderful time for you - and Happy Christmas right back at you (you'll be in the sunshine like us) x

      Delete
  11. Congratulations! Your post was my feature pick at #OverTheMoon this week. Each Hostess displays their own features so be sure to visit me on Sunday evening and to see your feature! I invite you to leave more links to be shared and commented upon. Please don’t forget to add your link numbers or post title so we can be sure to visit!

    ReplyDelete

I love it when you leave a comment and I reply to them all.
If you'd like to read my reply in your email then feel free to tick the little "notify me" box.