This is the first Christmas eve and morning we will spend alone together (assuming the Mayans weren’t right). Though we miss our children and grandchildren very much, we are kind of excited to see what Christmas will be like with just the two of us. What will we do Christmas Eve? How late will we sleep in Christmas morning?
I guess, I had better explain why the above questions are posed. It all has to do with Martin family Christmas traditions. We did not necessarily set out to create these traditions. They seemed to just evolve over the years. Here are a few of our Christmas traditions:
Let’s start with the Christmas Eve program. Every Christmas Eve, Jerry (Sr.) would build a fire in the fireplace and we would read the account of the first Christmas story from Luke. Starting around the time the older children were elementary school-aged, they began to put on a Christmas play. Camie would act as producer. Alyssa would write up the play (with Camie’s input), and together they would direct . (The girls can correct me if I am wrong.) I remember one year preschool aged Jerry played Santa. He also was forced at one time to play the mother. As the years went by, and some children developed musical talents, those were utilized. Eventually, the play was dropped and the program resembled a musical concert. Camie played the violin and viola, Alyssa the clarinet. Kindra played the flute, and Jenae the Cello. Justin and Chris played the trumpet. We all sang Christmas Hymns. Always, we would end on a Spiritual note reading together the scriptural account of our Savior’s birth.
No gifts were placed under the tree before Christmas Eve because they would almost certainly be opened by whomever was the toddler at the time. One year, when Adam was finally beyond toddler stage and I thought I could trust him not to open gifts, I wrapped some and placed them under the tree to help provide decoration. This was met by loud protests from the children. “No,” one of them explained, “We always go to bed Christmas Eve with no presents under the tree, and when we wake up Santa has come to deliver them all!”
I’m not sure when it started, but the children began sleeping together in one room on Christmas Eve. It was wall-to-wall sleeping bags and air mattresses in one bedroom upstairs. I guess they wanted to monitor each other and make sure no one got up and went downstairs to peek. At about 4:30 AM Christmas morning, the upstairs toilets would start to flush. (The plumbing from upstairs happens to run down the wall behind the bed in the master bedroom so repeated flushings would awaken us parents.) This was the signal for Jerry to get up, build a fire in the fireplace, and start the Christmas music playing. The children would line up on the stairs, in descending order with the eldest at the top and the youngest at the bottom to await my invitation. They would then march into the living room and the gift opening would begin. Gifts were distributed and everyone opened gifts simultaneously. It was somewhat of a frenzy. But delight was expressed and thank-yous were said to each giver as the gifts were opened.
This Christmas there will be seven families in various places in the United States, creating their own family traditions or blending into the traditions of their spouses families. Adam, the only child not married will spend his first Christmas away from home serving as a missionary in Brazil. He gets to call home (we will Skype) and that will be our best Christmas gift!
We wish you and yours the Merriest Christmas ever, and a Happy and prosperous New Year!