“I don’t like Christmas.”
When my seven-year-old son said those words, I was floored. I didn’t know how to answer him.
Who doesn’t like Christmas? With family visits, fabulous food, and giving and receiving gifts, what’s not to like?
After several conversations, I finally got to the root of the problem. This was our Christmas schedule up to that point:
- Wake up at six, open gifts, and then dress to get to the in-laws’ house for breakfast. “No, you can’t play with your toys. We need to leave.”
- Father-in-law takes everyone to breakfast. “Eat fast. We need to go.”
- Back to in-laws’ house to open more gifts. “No, you can’t play with those toys. We need to leave.”
- Go to grandparents’ house for a big dinner. “But I’m not hungry.” “Well, at least try a bite of everything.”
- Open more gifts. “Don’t play with your gifts. We need to go to the other grandparents’ house for a light supper and dessert.”
- Try to eat another meal. “I’m not hungry.” Repeat previous conversation.
- Open more gifts. “No, don’t take it out of the box. Just put it in the car, and you can play with it tomorrow.”
Is it any wonder he didn’t like Christmas?
That year, I decided to change our family traditions. On Thanksgiving, I announced that we would be leaving town on December 23rd and returning on the 26th. Any get-together would need to be before or after that time, and only one for the entire family.
At first, many family members were miffed that we wouldn’t be around for the holiday. Then, when they realized that having our gift exchange could be after the holiday rush, when they could take advantage of all the after-Christmas sales, they liked it!
There’s nothing special about December 25th, except that’s when most people remember the birth of Jesus. Many Bible scholars believe that His birth really happened in summer or autumn, so celebrating a different day doesn’t mean any disrespect.
Now that my sons are grown and have families of their own, we gather on Christmas Eve for fun, food, and family. And the kids can play with their gifts as soon as they open them. Then, everyone can have another Christmas celebration the next day with their in-laws.
Maybe you can give your family a special gift this year: the gift of time. More time to celebrate, instead of trying to squeeze everything into one day. Offer your house a day or two before or after Christmas.
I bet once you try it, yule like it!