It only seems proper to commemorate the season with a nod toward familial traditions. So far as I'm concerned, the religious aspects have been covered adequately elsewhere, or Inadequately, depending on your personal perspective.
My Beloved Bride, Holly, has commented elsewhere about HER family's Christmas traditions. I was fascinated several years back, when I learned of them and how they in some ways paralleled those of my childhood.
It never occurred to me to ask about when Mother and Dad reached their compromise about Christmas. Dad was just barely a Texan by birth, being whisked across the Red River as an infant, and grew up in and around Ryan, Oklahoma. Mother's family was centered around a farm outside Itasca, Texas. After nursing school, she took a job at the little community hospital in Ryan, met Dad, and history unspooled.
When I was small, we'd spend Christmas Eve at Ryan and have the major celebration and gift exchange that night. There were my Grandparents, Dad's sister, her husband and daughter, and usually Dad's aunt and uncle. What with other relatives and friends dropping by, it seemed like a nice houseful to me. Happily, my only first cousin, was withing a year of my age, something of a tomboy, and enjoyed climbing the backyard trees as much as I did. The Christmas I was four, my brother Gerald was present but he wasn't a major irritant for a few years.
Early on Christmas Day, we'd pile into the car and drive the 140-odd miles south to spend Christmas afternoon and night with Mother's family. She was one of eight siblings, all of whom had their own families, so the house was full-to-overflowing every year. At least some of my aunts and uncles had already had their own festivities before arriving at the g'parents' place. Somehow, it didn't bother me that the same Santa Claus I'd seen in Oklahoma the previous night made another appearance in Central Texas. Or, speaking of appearance, that he LOOKED somewhat different . . . .
There were two male first cousins in this group when I was still pre-school, with many more cousins to arrive later. The other two guys and I ranged far and wide. The farm was a ways out from town and the blackland fields were almost table flat, so our parents could see us as far as we'd travel.
When we moved out to El Paso while I was in the fourth grade, it was a lot more hassle to make the family Christmas celebrations. As it happened, though, Dad was almost always able to take vacation time, and we made it far more often than not. We did a lot of traveling during that week or so, but it was just what we did, and it usually seemed worthwhile. We always drove, and I'll note that this was before the days of the Interstate Highway system, at least out in our direction, and I doubt there was 50 miles of four-lane road between El Paso and Ryan. Dad liked well tuned, big-engined cars, though, and he wasn't hesitant to drive them a bit, uh, rapidly when he had the chance. Traffic enforcement radar was in it's infancy, and Dad was a very alert driver.
I wonder if many of you did much regular long-range travel during Christmas time, in YOUR youth?
This year, as BB has already blogged, we had a somewhat smaller group than usual at our place. Her mother was here, and both Holly's son and daughter. Younger Son David was here, though he had to go to work later on. Late in the evening, H's stepbrother, his wife, and one daughter showed up to visit. Matt was absent, but for a happy reason - - His wife had already taken their kids to visit her side of the family for the first time in years. Matt drove down to join them in Austin on Monday, and took his mother with him for the celebrations.
What with all the aforementioned activity, our Christmas day was very quiet. I fixed French toast and bacon for breakfast, and we've been grazing on leftovers since. We've talked on the phone with several relatives and special friends. Matt sent a text greeting, and technologically challenged as I am, I couldn't do likewise, so I just phoned to return the greetings.
Withal, we are in relatively good health, warm, nicely fed, and fairly basking in well-being. We are conscious of the blessings we enjoy and are mindful of those less fortunate. A grand Christmas season, and we extend our sincere wishes that you all have had, and are having, the same.