I love christmas. I love christmas traditions. I love the big menu, the apetizers, the family coming in and visiting everyone. I love the way christmas has always been for me. Midnight mass. Lots of people aorund me. Sixhundred obligations that you secretely enjoy even when they drive you insane, because they confirm that everything as it should be. But things do change. Over the last few years christmas traditions have had to change. Of course I married and moved to a different continent. That will change a few things. My favorite christmas songs were no longer on the radio. But there was Youtube to compensate and the first two years we just flew 'home' to Belgium where everything was as it always was, with the exception of being more wonderful with my husband. But then the first year with Joseph Midnight mass was a sea of exhaustion instead of trying to focus of the wonder of Our Lord coming into our life. Instead of allowing the miracle of the Word becoming flesh sink into me.. I wanted to cry because my precious baby would not be still during the long service in the middle of the night. We started to adjust things. The next year we still traveled to Belgium, but we went to the daytime mass, and I started to realize that.. things change, traditions change and as a family, we had to create our own. Many people told me this, but to me it was hard to understand. I have a hard time letting go of things sometimes. Last year, well.. things had to change. I was too pregnant to travel all the way to Europe. Christmas dinner was going to be 'just us'. We still did Turkey but things were abreviated and perhaps more suitable to a two year old. And there were new traditions emerging. Christmas ornaments in St. Nicholas shoes. A tree with homemade ornaments and Star Wars, aside from the new bride ornaments. And while I didn't have the christmas joys of the past, I had new ones that were just as special. We celebrated a christmas dinner a few days later with a formal dinner with my mother and good friends. This year, we celebrate christmas with two boys and family arriving after new year. I did do the early shopping, and around Thanksgiving decided I was not going to drive myself and my family insane as I usually do, and I have actually enjoyed it. We're having a christmas picnic in the living room tomorrow evening. I bought paper plates and napkins. We are probably going to have meatballs, popcorn, chips, cider, chocolate milk and whatever else catches my fancy at the grocery store. Maybe some sweet potato ovenfries. I am reminding myself that Michael will try to get into everything and that there will be food all over the place and that that will be okay..
Maybe this will become our new tradition, that we can include others in as time goes by. Maybe my children will one day be so attached to this picnic that they can not imagine anything else. And maybe in a few more years things will change again. I am trying to learn that Christmas is about how I can let my children learn about this miraculous event of Jesus in our midst. At this age they do not get theology, but Joseph knows how to count down the days. And he wants a birthday cake for baby Jesus like we did last year. It's a good start. Letting go.. and holding on.