29 December 2013


For the first time in three years, Paul and I were able to be with our families for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We feel blessed to have the opportunity to spend two holidays with parents and three holidays – including the upcoming New Year’s Eve celebrations – with siblings.

As we age, however, I am noticing that it is becoming harder to spend time with all of my family and all of Paul’s family all at the same time. Holidays for members of broken families, in my experience, end up two ways: either I attend one family gathering and miss the other or multiple family gatherings are scheduled over numerous days, which is nice but also time consuming.

Thanksgiving was played like the former; I attended my family’s Thanksgiving and Paul attended his family’s Thanksgiving; we did not spend time with each other’s family. Christmas was a bit much. We just hopped into bed after attending our sixth family Christmas within eight days.

Some say the true meaning of Christmas can get lost in all of the hustle, bustle and shuffle, but what exactly is the true meaning of Christmas? If it’s taking time to celebrate Christ’s birth and life, thanking God for His sacrifice, then we certainly made time for that. If the meaning of Christmas is dedicating a portion of our own successes to those who need it a little more than we do, then, yes, we did that. If Christmas is all about spending time with family and friends, we did that… a lot.

Don’t get me wrong – I love hanging out with family and friends and I love holiday parties. But six is a lot and I am not sure I want to have that many again.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone liked each other well enough that we could just have one big Christmas celebration with everyone? Well, at least it’s a thought.

Our first Christmas was spent with Paul’s dad, sister, brother and his now fiancĂ©. We had a great dinner at an upscale restaurant, had wonderful conversation and exchanged gifts around the table. These family holiday dinners are my favorite and it was a great way to officially start the holiday.

The next day, the Sunday before Christmas, was spent with Paul’s mom and step dad, sister, brother, brother’s fiancĂ©, two stepsisters, their husbands and our niece and nephew. We had two rounds of food, two rounds of gift giving, two religious activities and lots of time hanging out. It was a long but mostly relaxing day.

Tuesday I spent with Gran, as I did most days during the week, and I gave her a little gift I picked up when I was in Sydney earlier in the year. I won't count this as a Christmas trip since I was really there just to spend some time with her but this is making my point about spending ample time with everyone.

On Christmas Eve, Paul and I attended a family gathering at my mom’s house. We had some food, baked some cookies and watched a movie after yet another round of gift giving.

Christmas day we spent at Paul’s grandmother’s house with all of his aunts, uncles and cousins. The Greeks are fun and I love hanging out with them and eating the amazing food.

Today Paul and I had brunch at my aunt’s house with my cousins and their kids. We passed around presents and then went with the kids to see the cows and the horse currently occupying the farm. We like to think we helped my uncle with a couple chores but we really just watched him do the feeding while we tried to pet the animals.

Later this evening we found ourselves in Columbus – Dublin, actually – attending a holiday party at Paul’s aunt’s house. Surprisingly, I think the McKee family members outnumbered the Paparodis clan. By the time we arrived the meal, the gifts and a toast to Sean’s and Jamienne’s recent engagement were already completed but we were in time to play a couple games including a new one for us called Left, Right, Center. We lost $9.

I like Christmas for a lot of reasons: the family time, the snow, holiday attitudes of cheer and loving kindness, but this year I think I have had my fill. I have already told both our mothers that next year we are going to have to do some picking and choosing and start divvying up holidays because we just can’t promise to be everywhere. Does anyone else have this problem?

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