christmas without ‘christmas’

This year Mike and I had a Christmas without “Christmas”. We spent Christmas in Pasadena, CA without all the things that seem to make Christmas ‘Christmas’ for us. We didn’t have any family visiting out here. We didn’t have the traditions we grew up with: whose houses we visit on Christmas or Christmas eve, what games we play (no sheepshead this year!), what foods we eat. We didn’t have the snow or the cold of the midwest, and instead had the rainy 50’s of SoCal this year. We didn’t have a tree or Christmas decorations. I didn’t get to play Christmas songs on the piano or listen to the 5 Christmas CD’s my family has played since I was little. We didn’t have a Christmas-morning gift opening or many gifts at all. We didn’t have anywhere to dress up to go.

So without all the normal Christmas traditions, family parties, gifts, food, or music, what makes Christmas Christmas? Mike and I struggled with that this year. Luckily we had a wonderful Christmas. We spent Christmas Eve with our great friends who live up the block and were also staying in Pasadena. We ate chili and cornbread and played monopoly. Then we went to church together (unfortunately our church didn’t have Christmas services so we checked out Lake Ave), went looking at Christmas lights, and even did some shopping at the Trader Joe’s Outlet and now have a fridge and freezer full of food. On Christmas morning we opened up a Christmas package from Mama Drews and found plenty of tasty treats and baking mixes. Mike made us breakfast (his mom’s Canadian Sunrise dish) while I made some art and finished up some homemade gifts. We decided that instead of exchanging gifts we’d start a Christmas tradition of doing an art project on Christmas morning. After that was done we made our own ‘Christmas sweaters’ by pinning felt Christmas scenes onto some wool sweaters (I made a Christmas tree and Mike made an awesome looking Santa). Then we made some things for Christmas dinner (Mike’s famous mashed potatoes and Nancy’s peanut butter balls) and then headed up the street to have Christmas dinner with our friends, Dave and Krissy, and Krissy’s family, who came into town that morning. We ate, went on a post-dinner walk once the rain stopped, played Cranium, and watched A Christmas Story.

So, although all the traditional Christmas stuff was missing, I had a great Christmas. And I figured out why- it’s about who you spend it with. This year I may not have had family around or gone back home to see old friends, but I got to spend Christmas with some of my favorite people. Christmas may not feel like Christmas without all the traditions or gifts, but if you have people who love each other come together to share food and games and celebrate the day, it doesn’t really matter what you do.

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