Friday, December 23, 2011

Our December Family Tradition

Hub and I are flying home from our two-week vacation Christmas Day. Experience has taught us Christmas Day travel can be cheap, convenient, with no airport crowds or hassles. Just about everyone is where he or she wants to be on this one day.

We spent five days with the Denver crew and twelve days in California with Santa Cruz as our base. We took advantage of a house swapping opportunity.

Hub and I are part of a family with both Jews and Christians. For years we all got together on Christmas Day. It made sense. No one worked and there were not a lot of other things to do in our town. The only other option was a movie and Chinese food. December 25th is my sister-in-law’s birthday, so there was an additional reason for everyone to get together.

The tradition ended over a decade ago. My brother-in-law and his wife decided to start a new family tradition of their own. He was born and raised Jewish, moved on to the Jews for Jesus, and then morphed into a fundamentalist Christian. He decided he did not want his family to celebrate the Christmas holiday with unbelievers. That was initially the Jewish side of the family. More recently he has enlarged his uninvited list to those Christians who do not quite meet his standards.

Over time families and relationships change. From time to time circumstances draw family members together. At other times the fragile bonds holding people together tear. Occasionally they can be salvaged and repaired, and sometimes not. Families break apart, sometimes spectacularly and sometimes slowly over time. People move away – figuratively – from each other.

Hub and I were faced with a dilemma. The rest of the family felt bad they could not continue the traditional all-encompassing, all family get together.

We solved the problem by going out of town every year. We went to Florida, visiting family and friends scattered throughout the state – Melbourne, West Palm Beach, Miami, Naples, Tampa.  Sometimes we drove to Florida, one year getting stuck in traffic on I-95 for hours. We have also flown south for the holiday. We spent one year in Colorado, once again flying home Christmas Day.

The worst Christmas was 1999. Two days before the holiday my girlfriend’s son died suddenly. We flew to Michigan on Christmas Day to see her, comfort her and attend the funeral the day after Christmas.

Next week my son, his wife and baby will spend four days with us at the Jersey shore. Other family members will come from New York and Pennsylvania to see them. Our family is experiencing a baby boom. Three babies under eighteen months will add to the happy, hectic scene. My brother-in-law, his wife and two teenagers will not join us.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.

Happy Chanukah!

Merry Christmas!


  1. Imho, family holidays should be inclusive (overlooking religious differences), not exclusive (emphasizing the differences). Seems like you've got a good idea. The Jersey Shore at Christmas -- sounds kinda nice!

  2. May you be exactly where you want to be.

  3. Wow. A lot of stuff to juggle! Religion doesn't come into our 'Christmas' at all (I am fairly ashamed to say). None of my family is religious, so the day is all about food and the giving/receiving of presents. I think the Christian spirit prevails though: we all love giving presents.