In comparison to Halloween, New Years is my next least favorite holiday. New Years Eve television is more painful to watch than the Superbowl halftime show. Every year the debauchery and hedonism is cranked up another notch as the desensitizing of our culture continues down the slippery slope of depravity.
We make a bunch of snacks as the last hurrah for the diet that starts the next day. Or maybe we move the new diet to January 2nd, you know, leftovers. We stay up late to watch people grind each other on television while we listen to the horrific noises that pass for music that’s shoved in our ear canals for the hour leading up to the ball drop. Ball drops, people kiss, sing the same song every year, then go to bed.
New Years is just another day, there is nothing magical about January 1st. Don’t make promises to yourself that you can’t keep. If you want to change, change now or six months from now. Just make up your mind that you want to do it.
Every year we get super excited for Christmas and by the time December 25th rolls around we are ready for it to be over. This year I started way too early, we visited Disney Theme Parks the week before Thanksgiving and all the decorations were up and the holiday music was blasting. We had our Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving. I jumped the gun this year on the Holiday Cheer and ended up running on fumes.
Next year we will wait until Black Friday to start decorating. That way we don’t get burned out like a Yankee candle left on the mantle all night. We are already removing Christmas items from the house and putting them back in storage. We usually wait until January 2nd. I think it makes Christmas much more gloomy.
I never understood what boxing day was until I made some friends from the Great White North. I thought it was a day where we remembered the greats like Cassius Clay or Mike Tyson punching people in the face. It’s either that or a day when we box up all of our gifts that we didn’t like and take them back to the stores in which they came.
Probably the most ungrateful I’ve ever been for a gift is when I was a child. I received a bean bag chair from my grandmother for Christmas. I loudly exclaimed in tears, “You don’t get furniture for Christmas”. My childish mind thought that only toys were permitted. I remember her running up to the closest gas station that was open and buying me a green “suckerman”. At least I had a toy, my temper tantrum worked!
Wake up way too early because the kids didn’t sleep at all
Open presents, either from Santa or hard-working parents who paid for them
Eat breakfast – We make a sausage egg and cheese casserole.
Jump in the car, take off (drive about 2 hours with no traffic)
Arrive at first stop
Jump in the car, take off (30-minute drive)
Arrive at second stop
Collapse in exhaustion
Wonder how the kids are still going strong.
This is the short list, it used to be much longer and cover a much longer distance. Between the food, fun, family, and yes sometimes fighting, don’t forget about Jesus during this time. It’s the whole point of it all.
My Christmas Eve traditions have evolved over the years. Long story, bear with me.
We used to wait for my Dad to get off work and ride to my paternal Grandparents house. We would usually be one of the last to arrive since my father worked for Federal Express helping Santa’s sleigh finish it’s route. Upon entering their home, you would be greeted by the warmth of the floor furnace. It was a open grate that continuously pumped heat. I’m not sure how that was safe and that we didn’t get roasted as children. I swear you could smell your shoes melting.
There was plenty of food and it all tasted fantastic. However you couldn’t smell any of it. All the adults smoked cigarettes which built a nicotine barrier that food aromas couldn’t break through. Christmas Eve always felt like the longest evening. We would stare at the mountain of presents under a 3 foot tall already decorated tree that was erected before the evening and taken down the next day. The grown ups wanted to sing by the piano but we wanted to see what was under all those wrappings. Once we started opening presents (after a few 10 minute delays) it didn’t take long before the night was over and we were on our way home.
Starting our Own
We live just far enough where we have to do our own thing for Christmas Eve. Otherwise we would have to spend Christmas morning at someone else’s place. I want my kids to wake up in their own house on Christmas morning. We keep it pretty simple. We watch Christmas movies and bake treats. We have a nice steak dinner at a restaurant and then attend a Christmas eve service at our local Church. We then drive around and look at Christmas lights. We come home, open one gift and then put the kids to bed. We then watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation while we wrap and assemble the kids gifts.
It’s important to start and keep traditions, but also remain flexible. Someone in your family is always going to be unhappy, don’t let it be you.
If you still worship Saturn then I hope you have a happy winter solstice. There are many people complaining that Christmas hijacked Saturnalia. Well, they are partially right. Christmas used to be celebrated in the springtime but many were feeling left out by not participating in the drunken debauchery fest known as Saturnalia.
The church decided to move Christmas to December as a rival celebration. This would give Christians something else to do rather than eating and drinking until they vomited and other such merrymaking. Just to be clear, Christmas is not pagan in origin but some winter celebrations are full-blown pagan. If anything paganism has crept back into Christmas.