Thanksmas: Our Family Tradition

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, I've never been one to set my alarm and arrive at stores when their doors open at 4 in the morning.  I'm still sleeping in a warm bed, ready to be woken up by something much more natural, as in, my kids who love to snuggle their way into our space and then promptly demand breakfast.

There's a reason why I don't need to interrupt my regular morning routine with the Black Friday rush.  By the Friday after Thanksgiving, my Christmas shopping is already done.  Presents are already wrapped.

No haters, please.

You see, the Friday after Thanksgiving is an entirely new holiday with my husband's side of the family.  Since we won't get to see each other in December, we devote the day to celebrating Christmas. 

We call the day Thanksmas.  We segue from turkey and stuffing on Thursday to leftover turkey and stuffing -- and the gift exchange -- on Friday.

It's seamless.  It's festive.  It's convenient.  And it completely messes with my internal calendar.  I return to work after Thanksgiving wearing a new sweater, receive a compliment, and say, "Thanks, I got it for Christmas," forgetting that to everyone else Christmas was eleven months ago.  I'm ready to wish people a happy New Year.  I've been thrown for a holiday loop.

When we started Thanksmas a few years ago I wondered what effect it would have on our kids.  I broached the subject with Joel, asking if he thought that they would find it strange if we celebrated Christmas twice.  He looked at me as if I had grown another head.  Strange?  What kid wouldn't love two Christmases?

He had a good point.

But what about waiting eagerly for Christmas morning?  What about the feeling you had when you went to bed on Christmas Eve as a child, knowing that Christmas was just one night's sleep away?  What about sneaking downstairs and hiding behind the couch while your parents, who knew you were there all along, went along with the game?  What about the tradition of going into your sibling's room the morning of Christmas, running down the steps together, and then dashing back upstairs to dive into your parents' bed while they burrowed under the covers just a moment longer and mumbled something about needing coffee? 

What about all that?

I mentioned this to one of my sister-in-laws, who provided me with a wise perspective.  "Your children won't have your childhood traditions.  They'll have their own."

She's exactly right.  All my recollections of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning -- how my brother and sat behind the couch each Christmas Eve, our mad dash downstairs, my father starting the coffee pot every Christmas morning -- make up the tapestry of my childhood holiday memories.  Reese, Brooke, and Kerrington will develop a set of memories from the traditions that we're setting up now.  They'll be different memories from how I experienced Christmas, but ones that are just as special, ones that are uniquely theirs.

Many years from now when my girls are grown and have husbands and little ones of their own, it's quite likely that they'll revert to celebrating only one Christmas.  They might call each other and ask, "Do you think it our kids will find it strange that we just have one Christmas?"

Hopefully, one of them will supply the others with the same good insight I was given.  Just because it's different, doesn't make it any less significant.

Happy New Year to you.

Image compliments of Steve Rhoades, Flickr

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