Sunday, January 11, 2015

Stretching Christmas—Carolyn R. Wilker

Our family has just celebrated another Christmas together— on January 10th  this year—a tradition we began years ago when our Christmas dinner was intercepted by hockey tournaments and figure skating practice. It was challenging to know when to serve the dinner, and that was before our family had grown to the size it is today.
 Change is not often easy. I cannot remember how the discussion went, but we all agreed to move our feast into January—when other family festivities had come and gone, New Year’s Eve was over and the children were settled back into school.
Each year the “night before Christmas” anticipation seemed a distant past, and by then we’d perhaps settled into the New Year, our resolutions not yet broken or tampered with too much. Then we’d have our Christmas feast and celebrate our father’s early January birthday.
            Over the years, the hosting has shifted from Mom and Dad at our family home, with everyone bringing food, to (we) daughters hosting in our homes. We must be on the third round by now.
As my husband and I arrived at Joan and Ron’s home, we met my brother and nephew leaving, taking Christmas dinner to my parents who were not able to attend— their first ever miss for this occasion. I added a few things to their load before entering my sister and brother-in-law’s home.  This year was already different for the date was shifted a week later so that our brother who was coming home from the West could be with us for our Christmas dinner.
Festively decorated tables awaited everyone as we filled our plates and sat in the kitchen, living room and family room. The food was plentiful and no one would go away hungry, except by choice. The feast was varied and delicious—no turkey to be tasted this time around.
 Even if the house was quite full, at about 28 people from adults to small children and one baby, we missed those families and individuals who could not be with us, due to work schedules, and colds and flus.
We’d made yet another change from our gift-giving game to only having a children’s gift exchange, and the option of a games tournament that didn’t come to pass, although some indeed played a game popular in our family. My youngest sister, Kim, brought along the video she had created for Mom and Dad’s 65th wedding anniversary celebration last June—an event postponed by our parents’ health issues.
The video, consisting of family photos and accompanied by some of Mom and Dad’s favourite music, made for a most time-consuming but worthwhile project featuring all members of the family, including beloved pets. Some of us watched it twice, enjoying every moment. We pulled ourselves out of our chairs to say goodbye and face the outdoor coldness and be on our way. The hours went far too fast.
By commercial standards, it seems that Christmas is over when the wrapping is torn off gifts on Christmas Day, and throughout the Christmas week. We are not the first ones stretching the season—we’d extended it just past Epiphany, the time of the church year that marks the wise men’s appearance in Bethlehem to see the new king more than two thousand years ago.
 The scene had shifted there too—from the manger to another house in the city, but it was still part of the story of Jesus’ birth. Changes that the world would watch and wonder at; changes that would affect many lives, and still does as people experience the gift of grace anew or for the first time because of the birth of a baby that God sent to the people of the time with a plan to redeem his people from their sin. And still does.

Carolyn Wilker, editor, storyteller, writing instructor, and author of Once Upon a Sandbox, a 2012 finalist in Canadian Christian writing awards.


Glynis said...

Good one, Carolyn. Sounds like the house was full and the love was rampant. Nice to hear. It is hard when we have some 'missing' - permanently and temporarily, though. We talked about that this year. But you are so right - we need to continue Christmas even when the wrapping is off. I am thinking that that the Christmas message is merely the beginning and it is the right thing to do to stretch Christmas in so many ways.

Peter Black said...

Sounds like a terrific time of family celebration and visiting. But wow! -- 28 people? That's tremendous.
We had half that number for our family get-together on Boxing Day, yet it was rather deafening in the livingroom with all the cross-talk and our sons' joshing back and forth. Even the kids didn't stay in the basement for long, although munchies and games were there for them. Most of the time they hung around upstairs -- probably for the adult talk. It likely reflects the fact that the eldest cousin is almost twenty-one and the youngest is nine, going on twenty-nine!
Thanks for this appetizer from your belated Christmas 'table.' ~~+~~

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