I've made it pretty clear here on my bloggity blog that I'm not crazy about the way my family celebrates Christmas these days.
Part of it is resentment that I have to be the one travel every year - even though I live in a really cool city adjacent to mountains. Why on earth would they not want to come here? I can't figure it out either.
The resentment continues with the fact that my brother runs his own business and doesn't exactly have to work out vacation time for the holidays.
And my friends who point out that we never get to take real vacations because all our time off and disposable savings is spent on just going 'home' every year.
As children, our family tradition on Christmas Eve was a special meal before opening family gifts. (the extra 20 -30 minutes it took to do the dishes - no dishwasher - was pure torture cuz we were so hyped up for presents!!)
Firm rules only one person could open at a time - everyone savoring the sweet gifts. Then we'd revel in our loot, clean up the torn wrapping paper and get a little shut eye before mom woke us to go to Midnight Mass.
After Midnight Mass, Mom and Dad would have to sedate three hyper kids to get us back into bed so Santa could visit. In the morning - Santa's gifts under the tree! Then we spent the day with my favorite Aunt & Uncle and their kids - having a big meal, playing in the snow and checking out all the new toys!
Now, my brother invites another family (who I barely know - but they have three wild noisy little boys) to open gifts with us on Christmas eve.
I hate to complain about that, because it started when the husband was away in Iraq - and we welcomed mom and her boys to join us for Christmas eve. That was nice - and the right thing to do and I enjoyed it the first two years, but now it's just a loud mess and it's not about family at all. Oh - and my nephew (our deceased sister's son) isn't invited to anything at my brother's house so that just emphasizes my point.
My parents don't like it either. I think that's the only reason they still want me to get married and have kids so that together we can reclaim Christmas!
Now everyone rips through wrapping paper like it's a race. We don't even get to see the expression on the face of the recipient of our gifts - cuz everyone is tearing through the boxes with no order!
The worst part is, we go to the children's Mass at 5:00pm on Christmas eve. The youth choir puts on a sort of pageant - singing the same explicative songs I sang when I was in the youth choir 20 explicative years ago!
If I hear Happy Birthday Baby Jesus one more time I'll spit - from the choir loft! I'm not kidding.
I miss Midnight Mass.
Last year, I stayed here and had Christmas with Mr. Burns. We went to the Cathedral for Midnight Mass and I was moved to tears. It was amazing.
I'm learning that what I really want is my own Christmas Traditions. Rather than be forced into what is convenient for my brother. And I'm not going to wait until I have kids to do it. I figure I'll bring them on one by one.
This year, I've decided that the first step in incorporating my own traditions is to forgo the annoying Children's Mass on Christmas eve. I'm going to go to Midnight Mass if I have to go all by myself.
I'm going to tell my nieces and nephews that I'll be attending Midnight Mass and if they want to get up and go with me - I'd be the happiest Auntie in Nebraska. I'm pretty sure my nieces will want to join me. I'm betting my little nephew will too.
And that will make me such a happy Auntie.
Even (or especially) if it ticks my Sister-in-law off.