Christmas. My mom's favorite holidays. As a kid she would go all out. Then one by one all four of us left the nest, got married and had kids. You know, changing family dynamics. We now had in-laws and our own kids to include in celebrations. For a while I think we tried getting everyone together Christmas for dinner. 19 of us, trying to match up schedules. Crazy.
My parents gave up having a gathering many years ago. Rather than try to get us all together on Christmas, they come to us. They love this for many reasons. One they get to see each grand child in their own home environment. They get to see the cool gadgets and joy. They get to spend time with each family in a more meaningful way. Rather than a crazy 2 hours with 19, they get more intimate moments.
I think for my mom the empty home on Christmas day was too empty. She went from 6 to 2. Sometimes quiet can be too quiet, especially on a holiday. So rather than sit at home feeling depressed, they decided to get out and spend their day with their children. They confirm schedules a month in advance, but by now it is a pretty set thing. My brothers first where they have hot coffee. They spend about 2 hours there and then they head over to our place. If they have not already had breakfast they have some with us. Oh, and more coffee for my dad. They spend a couple hours with us and then head over to my sister's where they spend the afternoon and have lunch with her family. Then my other sister's in the evening where they have dinner. Are you getting the picture that they eat well on Christmas? Trust me, they do.
Another nice thing about doing things separately, it cuts down on comparing. I know my mom takes great pains to be as fair as possible with her gift giving. By doing it separately she doesn't have to worry that she bought one $50 item for this grandson while spending $50 on 7 for another.
What I love about it is this; I feel like I get to celebrate with them. Not endure mass craziness for an hour or two. They get to see each gift opened. Each expression. Impromptu dances, that may not have occurred had they been somewhere else with many spectators. They see each kid, at home, without restraint. They see how each of their kids are making memories for their own and they are a part of it.
For my family Christmas doesn't end when grandma and grandpa leave. It is out the door and on to the in-laws to celebrate with them.