One favorite topic of conversation among my knitting group while we were working on our wee tree was "What's your idea of a perfect Christmas?" As in, if you had no obligation to tradition or family or anything, how would you celebrate the holiday?
This question has been particularly pertinent to me these past few years.
I grew up splitting Christmases between Mom and Dad (one year with Mom, next year with Dad), but at each house there was a very specific set of traditions.
At Mom's it was Christmas Eve with extended family (which involved mass orgies of present opening among me and my 20-ish cousins), and Christmas mornings with "just us". For "Christmas dinner" everyone got to pick their favorite food. If my brother wanted jelly beans and I wanted chicken noodles, that would be what we would have. (I have to think that there were some limitations to that, but I really don't remember them if there were.)
At Dad's, Christmas Eve was a soup buffet at my Auntie's house. Christmas night was at Grandma's where the present opening (very orderly, from youngest to oldest) was always preceded by a reading of the nativity story from my grandmother's bible.
Then, sometime in late high school/early college, all of that got turned topsy-turvy, which screwed with my Christmas for several years--it just didn't feel right without the established procedures. I always felt like something was missing.
When Sweet Husband and I moved to Lawrence, Christmas fell into a kind of rhythm again (Christmas Eve with my side of the family, Christmas Day with his side), but it's always been a temporary state of affairs. Sweet Husband gets off at four on Christmas Eve and often has to be back at work by the 26th, which makes for a whirlwind 36 hours of get-togethers. I love seeing our family, but it makes me dizzy!
This gets us back to the original question. Because, if I kinda-sorta get to start from scratch at making a Christmas, it makes sense to do it right, yes? So, what is my idea of a perfect Christmas?
I'm not religious at all, but I do love the stories of the various religions that have holidays at this time of year. And it seems to me that the main connecting thread of all those stories is that they're all celebrations of light. Jesus bringing light to the world, the oil in the temple burning to keep the lights on, St. Lucia's Day, Yule....So, my perfect Christmas has that as a sort of guiding principle--a celebration of light and warmth in the cold, dark winter.
I also like having friends and family around, so if any of them want to show up for some of my perfect Christmas, the door is open.
And really, if you're going to do Christmas right, well, there just must be feasting!
With that all being the case, I think I want to have a fabulous Christmas Eve dinner--something we don't get to have almost any other night of the year (I'm thinking crab legs, maybe?)--by candlelight. Then go outside for a beautiful (hopefully snowy?) bonfire or tromp through the woods with Christmas carols. Then I want to snuggle up in new Christmas Eve pj's (a tradition from my Auntie's house) and read some of my favorite Christmas-y books...maybe The Polar Express or some Lemony Snicket (his Christmas books make me laugh so hard). And, of course, the evening must end with a dramatic reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
Sweet Husband has fond memories of eating German Pancakes (aka Dutch Babies) on Christmas morning, so that's a must. But this year I think we're also going to work in a few morning hours serving breakfast at our local homeless shelter. (I used to do something similar for Thanksgiving and it always made me feel incredible.) Then home for presents and a continuation of my family tradition, which I have affectionately nicknamed "The Feast of Whatever" (being short for "The Feast of Whatever You Want to Eat"). And I definitely think that's going to be especially "open" for whomever wants to come, especially considering that--given the nature of the celebration--I don't feel at all like a bad hostess for telling people to bring their own food!
Yep, that sounds like a pretty darned good Christmas celebration to me. Anyone see any obvious bits that I'm missing? And how would you spend your perfect Christmas?
This post is part of the Virtual Advent Tour. Please check out today's other "tour stops" ....