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Christmas evolution

  • This Christmas is going to be different. For the past 10 years at least, the kids have gone downstairs, made me a cup of tea, picked up their stockings from the mantlepiece, and brought stockings and tea to my bed, where they take turns pulling stuff out while I sip my tea. It's all very warm and domestic, and I LOVE it.

    This year, though, my eldest has graduated university, and that's the cut-off for stockings. So she doesn't get one this year. My son (he's 18) was given the choice between a stocking and another present (value approx $50 - which is much cheaper than filling a stocking for an 18-year-old!!). He opted for the present - which is great: less shopping and cheaper.

    But that means that only the 14-year-old will be getting a stocking, and she doesn't want to do it the traditional way if that means that she'll sit on my bed and everyone will watch her every movement. Makes her feel self-conscious. No more sitting-on-mum's-bed Christmas morning. Sigh...

    So our Christmas patterns are changing, and while it's inevitable and I'm not resisting it, it also makes me a little wistful.

    OKAY. So THAT was long, but here's my discussion question: Are your Christmas traditions changing as your children get older? How? And how do you feel about that?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 26th November 2007
  • Short answer - yes.

    Extended answer - For us, it's a combination of kids getting older and divided/blended families. Since my stepkids swap holidays on odd/even years according to their parents' custody agreement - this year, Dad has them for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, Mom has them for Christmas Eve - things aren't constant from one year to the next. This year, we've tweaked it even more, since Grandma is coming to our place on Christmas Day instead of us going to hers.

    Now that my son is out of university and working/living on his own, I'm not assuming he'll be with me every Christmas. This year he will be, and he's bringing his girlfriend (they spent Thanksgiving with her family, and he's not even seeing his dad over the holidays), but who knows where his life will be next year? I try not to take anything for granted.

    Since my stepkids make the move from one parent to the other on Christmas morning, gift-opening at our house happens either very early or not till mid-morning. My husband's family does stockings for everyone (but they're from Santa - oops, I almost forgot!), and that's new to me. My side of the family spends Christmas Eve at my sister's, and my nephews will have to get used to their step-cousins only being part of that every other year.

    Yes, it's definitely evolving. MaryP, your Christmas-morning tradition with your kids sounds lovely; I'd get wistful about that changing too!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Florinda Pendley Vasquez on 26th November 2007
  • My oldest three are with us from the day after Christmas (usually, sometimes the 27th) through whenever they have to be back in school, anywhere from 10 days to 2 weeks later. So our family's tradition is kind of crazy: Early Christmas with my parents in NJ, on-time Christmas at our place with our youngest (they each open one present from "Santa" that day), and then "real" Christmas when the big kids come up (when everyone opens all the other presents and stockings -- no Santa on this day, everything is from family). The big kids have "Santa" with their mom and stepdad. They also see both sets of bio-grandparents (they all live in the same town) on Christmas Eve or just before...

    I feel like I need a color-coded schedule just to explain it!

    When the big kids were tiny, our tradition was that when they got here the day after Christmas, they'd write "Santa" a note saying that they were at our house, and leave the note in the fireplace. Then they'd put out a carrot for the reindeer and some cookies and a small glass of scotch for Santa (my Dad decided one year that Santa gets sick of milk after a while and needs something to warm him up), and go to bed. The next morning -- voila! Tons of stuff under the tree! Cookies and Scotch gone! Santa got the note! Whoo-hoo!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse on 22nd December 2007
  • Scotch for Santa! If we'd done Santa, that would have been what he got when I was in my first marriage. When Stephen came into my life, and with him Santa for his kids, Santa got beer. Heh.

    Yes, two sets of kids, two different Christmas traditions, both maintained simultaneously -- the astonishing part, now that I look back, was that the Santa divergence was never an issue, not once. His kids never knew my kids didn't believe; my kids never seemed to give it a moment's thought. (Though of course they'd been very well-schooled in NOT disillusioning peers.)

    My big daughter arrived home last night!! Tonight we do our Christmas Eve Chinese delivery meal. I'm so excited!

    Merry Christmas, everyone!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 24th December 2007
  • Merry Christmas! My son and his girfriend arrived last night - nothing quite like meeting someone for the first time in baggage claim at LAX! They were pretty tired after two flights and crossing three time zones, but we'll be spending a lot of time with them the next few days.

    This year my stepkids have Christmas Day with us, so we'll see them tomorrow morning.

    Today should be calm - the shopping's done, gifts are wrapped. I have some cooking and baking to do in advance of tomorrow's dinner, but Christmas Eve is at my sister's house.

    Merry Christmas!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Florinda Pendley Vasquez on 24th December 2007
  • Yes! We stopped doing stockings a couple years ago figuring we were just spending money to fill a stocking with little stuff (and it's hard enough to buy for older kids these days). The tree is more of a "decorator" tree and not filled with the hodge podge of ornaments which is sad to me. I used to buy the kids an ornament every year ... something that reflected upon what their interests were at that particular time in their lives and we stopped that a few years ago too. They just weren't interested in it.

    Even the thrill of shopping for them has left because they usually just email me a list of what they want and I do their shopping for them.

    It's sad ... it's hard to get the Christmas spirit when it seems like just another day to them except for the fact they get new stuff.

    (sorry this is late ...I just joined today)
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 8th January 2008
  • Nebraskama - The changes can leave you feeling a bit flat, that's for sure. Christmas with older children is qualitatively different, and often less exciting (even less magical?) than with younger. What I've been trying to figure out is how to get some of that excitement/magic back. I suspect that I will have to find ways to do that for myself that are independent of my children. As they get older and have families, they'll be creating their own family Christmases. Mine will have to evolve to accommodate this.

    How old are your kids?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 8th January 2008
  • What no stockings??? I am rapidly approaching 40, the youngest of 4. Mine at age 8 is the youngest of the 6 grandchildren. We are very fortunate that we all live within an hours drive of my mom's and spend Christmas day together - a blessing that I really cherish.

    We each enjoy Christmas morning at home with our own kids - even our dog gets a stocking, and then we all head to mom's for an early dinner 1-2pm. And at Grandma's house we get a family stocking which includes many of the special treats we received as children[condensed milk for my brother and I, baby food plumbs for my sisters and scothc tape for us all.]

    It may sound silly but that is part of our tradition - I have always had a stocking to open on Christmas morning - and always expect to, just as my mom does !
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Pammy on 14th January 2008
  • Funny the different traditions, isn't it? In my family, stockings are for children. Once we left home, the stockings stopped. Same in both my husbands' families. (Two husbands, yes, but one at a time!)

    However, my first husband's family did Santa. Everyone, regardless of age, got one gift from "Santa" (aka his parents).
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 18th January 2008

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