In the 5-1/2 years Jim and I have lived together we have developed a few traditions that give us much joy and feelings of family togetherness in this grouping of individuals that we have cobbled together from broken marriages, intact marriages, births of children, and assimilation of friendships. Perhaps the most "pure fun" of these traditions is the annual decorating of our Christmas tree.
For this annual event, our respective sons and their wives and children, along with assorted in-laws and my sister and her family and a neighbor or two gather in our home to put ornaments on the tree, drink Jim's Famous Eggnog, wine, "bubble juice" for the young 'uns, the pregnant, and nursing moms; eat assorted easy-to-prepare-and-you-know-there's-going-to-be-leftovers food; engage in popping the "Crackers" that my sister and her husband bring and sharing the corny jokes inside; watching the little ones at play, and just general hilarity and memory-making activities. Yesterday was tree-trimming at our place and it was just as much fun as it always is!
This year we had the very unusual (for us) benefit of about 4" of snow, which began shortly after dawn. Because we live at the top of a small hill, Jim went out twice to serve as a guide to bring our guest safely here using back roads to avoid the dreaded "slide back down the hill" syndrome.
Ada and Addison were secure and joyous in the heart of family and friends, engagingly "clinking" their glasses of bubble juice and saying "cheers" to each other before drinking, and using toy badminton racquets as guitars. The adults ate, drank, laughed, decorated the tree, took turns hiding my wine glass (an annual event), and then chronicled it all on the blackboard in the kitchen, where it will (mostly) remain until next year.
We enjoyed a fire in the living room fireplace (seldom used, but appreciated more for its rarity), gatherings in front of the wood stove in the family room, Christmas music, and the accustomed teasing that carries over from year to year. In between times, we caught up with those we don't see as often as we'd like, and missed those who were snowed in or had made other plans.
After everyone had left, the dishes washed and food put away (I am constitutionally unable to face chaos in the morning), Jim and I enjoyed a glass of wine in the quiet warmth of our home, reliving each precious memory and being grateful for the many things we enjoy together.
I hope family and friends play a role in your Christmas preparations this year!
(You're invited to view more of the party here.)