For many years, my extended family has gathered at my mother's house for our Christmas meal and gifts. When we returned home, Dave and I, and our children started our own holiday traditions.
My mother celebrated her 80th birthday a few weeks ago. Hosting a gathering of twenty-five or more - even if others bring part of the food - has been increasingly difficult. This year she is considering letting my sister host. It looks like a small change. After all, my sister just lives a few blocks away, the menu will be the same and Mom will contribute part of it. But its a sign that time is marching on.
Our children are now grown and have homes of their own and, of course, they want their turn to host our immediate family for Christmas. I enjoy visiting their homes and, to be honest, the house where Dave and I now live was never "home" to either of them. They were in college when we moved here. But it's another reminder of the passage of years. More change.
But on Christmas Eve, the four of us (now five with the addition of Mitch's bride a few weeks ago) will all be in one place. We will exchange gifts and laugh and eat and play games - just like always. On Christmas morning we'll have cinnamon rolls in our pj's and watch A Christmas Story on repeat. We'll dress a little nicer than usual and sit around the table and share a meal.
Tomorrow afternoon, two 7-year-old girls will be at my house to decorate Christmas cookies. Decorating sugar cookies is a tradition dating back to my mother's childhood and passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter and now to granddaughters. My two assistants on Sunday are not my granddaughters, but since I don't have any grandkids close enough to help, they are standing in. The giggles, sticky fingers and sprinkle-covered floor will still be the same.
Time moves on, people age, traditions adapt, and sometimes - for better or worse - things change for good. But still we celebrate because Christmas is not about the gifts or the decorations or even the traditions. As Linus explained to Charlie Brown in their annual Christmas special, "I can tell you what Christmas is all about."
So wherever you are, and whether you have dozens of traditions or none at all, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!