We spent Christmas day with my in laws. I'm so lucky to get along with them well. My mother in law made it a relaxed, delicious, beautiful time. We've established a tradition. We open presents at our home and then head over there for breakfast and time with all the family. At some point presents are opened. By noon, everyone heads back to their houses for a Christmas nap. We don't have other family in town so we go back for a nice holiday dinner. There's usually a non-related guest or two that joins us. It's a nice day.
I do miss my family though. My parents are overseas. My brother is in California and my sister and her family live in Texas. We try to talk, or at least text, Christmas day, but I think that only makes us miss each other more! For me, there's always a little undercurrent that something is missing during the holiday season and I know it's being with my family. Hopefully we'll all be able to celebrate together in 2015.
I also went into this Christmas thinking that there would not be many presents under the tree. We've had medical bills to pay off, stuff with the cars, and just a lot of financial drama this year. Jane is pretty small so I wasn't worried about her being disappointed, but Julian has had some major Christmas hauls in past years. I also love finding perfect gifts for friends and family members so, by my own choice, I normally have quite a few people to shop for. This year, we had to seriously slim down the list. We mostly just bought for our kids, nieces & nephews and our parents.
Much to my surprise (and gratitude!), we were flooded with gifts from family and friends. The grandparents got the kids' big items: a bike for Julian and a deluxe exersaucer for Jane. I'm pretty sure neither of the children minded that some their gifts from us were not entirely new. Julian even said that this was the best Christmas ever. We all loved hearing that!
Of course, as much as family means and as fun as all the gifting is, the real meaning of Christmas also brings me mixed emotions. I can't express enough thankfulness that I don't have to earn God's acceptance. Jesus made that possible, so celebrating His birth is the highlight of my year. This holiday and the whole Jesus story is about love, forgiveness, acceptance, peace... and it makes me very sad that those are not words that are associated with Christians in general any more. That's another blog post entirely though!