Herald Journal Columns
Dec. 26, 2005, Herald Journal

My Christmas traditions


I normally love Christmas but I think it gets harder every year. Ever since I could remember, I couldn’t wait for Christmas Eve to come.

That night, my family goes to Christmas Mass at St. John’s Catholic Church in Darwin. We dress up nicely and bundle up and cram into the family car, and off to church we go. I love church on Christmas Eve. The church is packed with members and nonmembers (those who only think they have to go to church on holidays) and their families.

We all sing Christmas carols while we wait for mass to start, since we have to be there an hour before, just to ensure a pew to seat our large family. A couple years we’ve been late and then we have to scatter about the church, all in different pews. That’s no fun. Who wants to sit with another family at Christmas Eve Mass? Not me!

Church means so much on Christmas. It’s a different feeling than on an ordinary Sunday. That’s when you finally get to feel the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not about the gifts or the decorating or the hustle and bustle (chaos is what it feels like at times). That’s when it slows down and you can truly enjoy it. I wish that it lasted longer.

When Mass is done, we pack into our frozen family car, and head home for finger foods and dip. My favorite is my mother’s hot dip which is cream cheese and dried beef served with crackers. We always have wine and cheese with a platter of veggies and dip.

It’s always a relaxing evening with my mom, dad, two brothers and their significant others, and me, alone. Oh well, no bitter feelings.

After we get our fill, we all gather in our living room. I’ve always been the one to sort the gifts under the tree. I’ve come to the point where I will watch my family open gifts before I will. I like to see their reactions when they open their gifts, especially my mother. All of us kids are quite generous when it comes to buying my mother gifts.

We’ve started picking names among us kids. With the four of us kids and each of their significant others, it can get pretty spendy. It’s fun though, we don’t know who has our name until we open it.

My sister and her family come over on Christmas Day for a big meal prepared by my mom (with my help). I have four nephews and they are always fun to buy gifts for. It’s amazing how fast they can rip open a gift and move onto the next. It’s hard not to wish you were that age again.

We spend so much time preparing for these two days and they are over before you know it and then it’s back to the everyday routine again.

I wish Christmas, the actual day, would last a week, like Hanukkah does. It seems silly to prepare for months only for two days of fun. I guess it’s worth it, though.

I still enjoy opening gifts although it’s not as exciting when you’ve more than likely asked for everything under the tree. It’s not as much of a suprise anymore.

But my mom always tries to get me a thing that I don’t know about. It’s usually something personal that she thought I would like. That’s always fun for me.

When I was younger and had more time, mom and I would always drive around Hutchinson and look at lights on the houses. We would make cut-out cookies and almond bark pretzels but there “never seems to be enough time,” as my mother would say.

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