Friday, December 1, 2006

Christmas Traditions

When I was a kid, we used to go to my grandparents house to celebrate Christmas. It was one of the few times of the year that we would all gather to spend time together. Everyone from my dad's side of the family would join - grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins...and sometimes my cousins would even bring dates. Christmas with the Fahey's involved a gift exchange and turkey dinner. It was a pretty typical family Christmas tradition...

Leading up to the big day, mom and dad would ponder the appropriate gift to buy for the person who's name they had drawn several months earlier. If you got grandpa, it was easy, you just had to get him something to do with Don Cherry. Or a puzzle. He liked puzzles. Auntie Keli was pretty easy too, she had a phase for a while where she was into pigs, and then bears. I think cows at one point too. And then there were the others with the less obvious interests. I think its hard enough buying a gift for someone you're very close to and whose interests you know well - buying a gift for a relative that you see a handful of times each year is really taking a stab in the dark. I remember on more than one occassion that there was a mix up with the names where someone recieved multiple gifts and another received none. It's kind of funny that this was a key part of our family Christmas tradition.

And then there was the turkey dinner. Scheduling always seemed to be a bit tricky - trying to get it as close to Christmas as possible, while respecting that some would have vacation plans over the holidays. The family matriarch was charged with the vast majority of the cooking and cleaning duties. It always seemed a bit unfair that the person that got stuck with the most work barely got to enjoy the family visit.

As I got older, the family eventually drifted away from this tradition. I remember feeling a bit of relief when we eventually stopped doing the extended family get together and opted for a more simple dinner with my immediate family. My mom puts in a good effort and invites my grandpa to join and usually tries to get some board games going. It's enough that I have generally tried to stay in town over the holidays so that I can take part in our new, scaled down, family Christmas Tradition. But at some point, without the critical mass, it's not quite the same, the tradition loses momentum. This year I will be away from home for Christmas for the first time in a while. It was an easy decision when I first made it, but as Christmas approaches, I'm beginning to feel a bit of remorse over potentially contributing to the downfall of our Christmas Tradition.

As silly as the extended family get together may have seemed at times, it was an important opportunity for the extended family to spend some time together. I know I miss having a reason to get together with everyone. I've wondered whether it would be worth trying to make it happen again...but who am I kidding? I can't fit that many people in my house and the thought of a gift exchange makes me cringe.


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