His family celebrates Christmas in a much different way than we have in the past. A lot of it being that they have different traditions. For example, his family celebrates Santa, while my family didn't teach the version where Santa comes and gives you presents. Presents are from mom and pop and relatives. However, Santa is a symbol of the season and it's plenty enjoyable to watch all the Santa movies on tv. I personally, have always preferred all the versions of The Christmas Carol (which my husband tells me was originally supposed to be a ghost story NOT a Christmas story). Either way, the whole Santa thing, and having to hide presents from my niece was a new one for me. Even wrapped, she couldn't know they were in the house, because "Santa had to deliver them."
I'm not saying it's bad. Just that it was VERY different for me. Most of the time, my brother and I knew what was under the tree, and we knew exactly what we were getting and we would sometimes be known to wrap our own presents! While I like the not knowing what I'm getting, I'm still not too happy with the Santa idea. I think I'm going to be playing that one down quite a bit if we have kids. If the hubby will let me. :-P
I also was a bit taken aback at the NUMBER of presents. Now, it's always been just me my brother and my mom for Christmas (Poppy never liked celebrating Chrsitmas - he always said he would rather buy us gifts all throughout the year than just on Christmas and our birthdays). Sure we get some gifts from aunts and uncles and close family friends, but it's always been a small group. My brother and I were always given spending limits, and then once we hit that limit that would be it. For kids who love video games, we usually only got maybe two or three gifts (depending on how much money we got that year) and that was the end of it. If I got 10 one year and my brother 2(or vice-versa), we were taught that it was because of the cost differences of our items. One wanted more expensive things, the other cheaper things. It wasn't a bad thing to us and neither one felt cheated out of presents.
My hubby is one of three kids, and his family CELEBRATES. I think half the living room was taken over by presents. Now, of that three kids, everyone has been married. His brother, though his wife passed away, has a daughter. So that brings the family up to 6 (2 parents+3 kids+1 grand kid). Obviously hubby married me, and that brings us up to 7. His sister is engaged and so we have 8 people. 8 people that they buy for at Christmas. Not just one or two gifts but MANY gifts. This is something they plan for all year long.
This was a new experience for me because Christmas presents were not a big thing at my house. Even between me and hubby they aren't that big. We set a low dollar amount, and tell the other to find something in that price range. I bought him a CD and 2 $5 DVDs. He bought me monopoly and some fun magic trees that you let sit in a special liquid and they grow. its paper and the liquid and totally fun to see. That's Christmas for us. He also surprised me with another gift, but it's one for later on that is more for both of us. A Beauty and the Beast extravaganza! In January, we see it in 3D and try to get tickets to see it in April live on stage. Okay, so maybe that gift was a little big, but it's something we both have wanted to see, and probably would go see the 3D one even if he didn't "gift" it.
His family also does a breakfast where aunts and uncles come over, and a dinner where aunts and uncles USUALLY come over too I guess, but none did this year. Now, my moms best friend usually comes over on Christmas with her two girls. So there may be 7 of us on Christmas day? But that's usually in the afternoon, and then they stay for dinner which isnt a fancy affair in my family. It's either order a pizza or chinese, or barbecue. Simple easy everyone enjoys it. So having EVERYONE over, was a bit of a change for me. The biggest gathering on Christmas I had growing up with the size of hubby's immediate family this year! Very different and very new to me.
So my low key very small Christmas just got a lot bigger this year. Still processing it. Might take a while. :-P Had a good time though, but I think next year I want to spend some more time just me and hubby before we go spend time with the rest of the family. I think that will help me and keep my from the overload I suffered this year. Gotta ease into these things! lol
On another note, something has been on my mind lately, and I'm FINALLY getting around to writing it. Earlier I mentioned Beauty and the Beast. Well, it has been my favorite movie since... well.. probably since it came out. Originally it was Little Mermaid, but after Beauty and the Beast came out, I fell in love with it. As I got older, I found more examples of reasons why I preferred Belle over Ariel, why her romance with the Beast was so much better than Ariel and Eric's. I am obsessed. My sister in law has now adopted Belle as her favorite princess as well, she says because her wedding dress is the Alfred Angelo Disney collection Belle dress. So my niece has been watching Beauty and the Beast a lot. Well, as we were singing Be Our Guest, I was struck by a line in the song
"Life is so unnerving, for a servant who is not serving."
I had never thought about this line except to laugh as Lumiere puts on this dramatic little segment of the son and laments and wishes for the "good ole days when we were useful." Something this time really struck me. I don't know if it was just the Christmas season or not, but it made me think about work, and how I enjoy working in customer service jobs because I enjoy serving others. I feel useless if I'm not there to help and teach etc. I started thinking about how God has given me this heart ... and I stopped right there. I had my little aha moment! I AM SUPPOSED TO BE GOD'S SERVANT!!! IF I AM NOT SERVING GOD LIFE IS UNNERVING!! So simple. So easy. When I don't start my day with reading my Bible and praying. If I don't pray throughtout the days, before meals etc. If I'm not focusing energy on God, I become slowly unhinged. I start getting more aggravated. I lose the peace that God brings to my life. I start nit picking at every little thing! I find when this happens everything puts me on that last nerve. I become unnerved!
What finally got me to write this though was the book of Malachi. I used to be great about starting my day off with Scripture. I would make some tea and breakfast and while I drank my tea and ate my breakfast I would pour over God's Word. When we moved, that became harder to do. I'm not alone in the mornings very often. His mother and grandmother are usually up early as well and his mother likes to talk and ask me questions. I'm not sure how to tell her I'm trying to study. I've brought up pen and paper and have been writing while reading and eating and she still stops and asks me questions about how yesterday was for me and if I have any plans for the day. She does it to be caring, and I like that she wants to talk. But she also has the TV on so it's hard to focus. On top of this, my job required me waking up at 4 am to be at work at 5 am. I was barely getting a good nights sleep, and I really didnt have time to start my day right. So, to get back on track here, for the first time in a while I was able to read Scripture in the morning. I read the entire book of Malachi(4 chapters). I can't recall having ever read it before. I've never really read through the whole bible before to be honest. I was using my NIV student bible I got when I was in middle school. At the beginning of every book there is an "about" section. Talking about the writer, when he lived etc.
What Malachi wrote, but about people who no longer worshiped with all their hearts. They performed many of the functions, but wouldn't always give their best to God. They were servants, who were not truly serving. They found themselves always complaining about God not loving them and not giving them everything they asked for, and yet, they weren't really putting their hearts in it! They were unnerved from their lack of truly serving!
Then I thought about another servant. A young servant of about 13. Who trusted God with everything. Mary. God sent an angel and said she would conceive though no man would touch her. She said yes. She acted as a willing servant of God, and did so with grace and love in her heart. Oh I'm sure she had problems as well. I'm sure she had worried. But she gave them up to God, and had the heart of a servant. All I can say, is that I hope I serve God with all the love and true desire with which Mary served.
So that's what has been going on this Christmas season. Thinking about serving, and how our life gets completely out of whack when we aren't serving God, and how Mary served with her whole heart, and how wonderdful to have a servants heart like hers. Oh and the shell shock of a Christmas completely different from what I am used to (but still very fun). Gave hubby and I lots to think about with Christmas if God ever blesses us with children. Personally, I like this idea at August Fields(I think of it as one gift per wise man and a book) and hubby says he thinks its a great way to have an enjoyable Christmas without spending insane amounts of money. Plus we know any kids we have would get plenty of toys from the grandparents, aunts and uncles and everyone else, so we would like our gifts to be small in number but meaningful. At least that's our goal. :-)
So a late Merry Christmas to anyone reading this, and a wonderful and blessed New Year