It’s almost funny, the things we will do to spend just a small amount of special time with the ones we love, and how we truly come to appreciate those times over the years. Christmas is one of those times. Christmas in our house was always special, always a wonderful get-together with our large, extended family. When I was very young, my parents and I would spend the entire Christmas holiday with my grandparents on the Wicomico River in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. We always attended the Christmas Eve vigil at the church where my parents were married (which was built by my grandfather). While it was just the five of us there on Christmas morning, throughout the day, family would arrive until the tiny house was bursting at the seams with all of the people, presents, and holiday cheer. Dinner was a festive event with family from all over Southern Maryland popping in and out to exchange gifts and greetings.
Once my brothers arrived, and there were more cousins on the scene than just my cousin, Terri, and myself, we all stayed home for Christmas. All of us, that is, except for my grandparents. They spent Christmas Eve with my Uncle Gene and Aunt Joan, had breakfast on Christmas morning with my Aunt Debbie and Uncle Karl, arrived at our house for lunch and an afternoon of egg nog and present opening, and then traveled to my Uncle Butch and Aunt Pinky’s house for dinner. We all lived an hour or more apart, and I can only imagine how exhausting that was for them; but I don’t think they would have traded it for the world. After my grandfather went to his eternal Christmas dinner at the Lord’s table, my grandmother would come to our house, arriving just before Thanksgiving and staying through New Year’s. My aunts took turns hosting a family dinner on Christmas Day.
After I got married, things changed again. Ken and I go to Mom and Dad’s and spend Christmas Eve with my parents and my brothers’ families, going to Mass and then enjoying dinner and exchanging gifts. We return home late that night, and still today, the girls run up to bed while Ken and I visit with Santa. On Christmas Day, Ken’s family comes here for Christmas dinner and presents. We take lots of pictures (of course), and enjoy our time with family.
Christmas in our family is kind of like Max’s experience with the Wild Things. We travel across the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, just as I did as a child and my grandparents did later. And in my mind today, as we go, I travel through night and day and in and out of weeks and over a year through all of my memories of Christmases past. Every year, when the gift exchange begins, it’s definitely like being surrounded by wild things! Sometimes, amidst all of that togetherness, they even roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth, but then we remember who the King of all things is, and a hush falls over all of us as we contemplate the true meaning of Christmas.
It’s a lot of work, planning and traveling for Christmas, making sure we have all of the presents, and remembering, while at Mass, to be present for the Lord. But I wouldn’t change any of it. After all, at Christmas, we all want to be where someone loves us best of all and where we smell good things to eat, so we give up whatever seemingly important things we are doing to head home. We sail back over a year, and in and out of weeks, and through a day and into the night of our very own Christmas where we find the comforts of home and family waiting for us, and it’s always worth the trip.
Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores and online. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores, at Amazon, and at Barnes & Noble. Both novels are also available for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks. Amy’s children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.