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Everywhere I turn this holiday season it seems as if I am greeted with some kind of change. It seems the harder I try to make Christmas look like something I know, the more it has a life of its own.

I have had a lot of Christmas rituals in my life. I started out with the all American Christmas when I was a kid complete with Santa Claus, a Christmas eve church service, a one-package opening after church, and an abundance of gifts on Christmas morning. I was very blessed growing up. When I had my own family and became “Santa’s helper” they looked a lot like the Christmases I grew up with. When I got divorced they continued to look the same except now I either got the kids on Christmas eve/morning or they came over Christmas day. My girls were older so Santa was in our hearts not necessarily in our chimney. I added a few rituals and twists but we were on the same track.

When MP and I started to date we still kept our Christmases separate and equal. She still had Christmas with her ex and kids and I had my kids. We would convene after everyone had left and have our own special Christmas. The Christmas Eve services still included my mother and my brother and his family.

About 3 or 4 years ago, MPs parents started to come for Christmas and that added a new wrinkle, yet we still had the ritual of “separate and equal”. She would have her Christmas with her family and I with mine. We did however start adding a new ritual of a Christmas Eve dinner party with friends. That was new because all Christmases for me had been family only.

Last year we had our first blended family Christmas as MP and I live together and had her parents here also. Even though we were nervous at the time, it turned out beautiful. There were rituals that I missed and there were new rituals forming. Emilio (MPs son) and I took turns giving out presents and we all had fun.

This year we have no parents and Madison is leaving early Christmas morning for Malaysia so this will be the first year ever that I have not celebrated Christmas on Christmas Day with both of my daughters. Also MP is spearheading a Christmas Eve Party and Isabel is stepping into her inner chef and taking some leadership in creating a tapas meal. We will have Madison’s Christmas on Christmas Eve and we will still all open one gift. MP wants to go to midnight mass and Kelsey and I are playing that one by ear. Christmas will look similar except we are adding more people to our family each year and it keeps morphing into a celebration that seems to be different and wonderful each year.

What I realize this year is that how blessed I am and how blessed I have ALWAYS been around Christmas. The faces, the places and the events may change but the love, connection, and the joy at Christmas is always there…….and this year we have a chimney. HO! HO! HO!

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