Art and I have eight children between us. Until we got together, my two sons and I celebrated on Christmas Day. Once we had a blended family, for many years we all gathered on Christmas Eve for a meal and gift exchange. Then they all grew up, half of them moved away, and Christmas Eve wasn't a good time for the other half, and then there were grandchildren. So we changed the tradition several times.
This year we're having a family meal on Sunday, December 12. We'll have only three of our offspring but will also have a wife, a significant other and two to four grandchildren. We buy gifts for all ten of our grandchildren, stepgrandchildren and grandchildren's halfsiblings. For the family gathering, each adult brings a generic gift with a value of $20 or less, and we do the "draw numbers, choose a gift or steal" routine. That works well for our family's current configuration.
Once the 12th has past, Art and I are finished with the family Christmas. In previous years this has been hard for me. Last year I decorated a live tree with all the old ornaments - the ones I collected when my two boys were growing up. When I finished, I felt so sad I started to cry. I was thinking about and wishing for Christmas Past. So I took down all the ornaments and put the live tree in the yard.
This year we drove into the country to buy a dozen poinsettias, as usual. Today we put up 19 stockings on the banister, set out the nativity set and put up all the decorations except a tree. It looks good, and I don't feel sad.
On December 17th Art and I will attempt another road trip - this one to Island Park, Idaho, where we will be in a two-bedroom timeshare 22 miles from West Yellowstone. One of the days we're there we'll take a snowcoach trip inside Yellowstone. We're taking the snowshoes we bought two years ago that we've never used, plus our Kindles, a dozen magazines, a jigsaw puzzle, my laptop, and half of the poinsettias. I expect it to be cold, with snow, and I think we'll have a quiet, comfortable week before Christmas. On Christmas Day we'll start our two-day drive home.
This plan sounds good to me. It lets me live in Christmas Present instead of pining for Christmas Past. Which I now remember as being wonderful sometimes and just wretched at others (like for two or three years after my divorce). Christmas Present is what we make of it, and I like the one we're making this year.