After surviving the discovery that Santa was not real, Christmases went along quite well for awhile as I continued to enjoy being surrounded by family. That was to change when my sister and I got married. We had other families to spend time with as well and so did not always manage to get everyone together anymore.
My first married Christmas was a whole new story. I was not really aware of how other families handled the season. Since my mother-in-law was widowed, and she only had one bachelor son besides my husband, I insisted that we spend Christmas with her instead of with my family. It only seemed fair.
My husband and I were still in university at the time. We drove 'home' to her house and got there on Christmas eve before she arrived home from work. When I walked in the door I was overwhelmed with the emptiness. There was not a Christmas decoration in sight! When she got home she was all tired and crabby and complaining about Christmas.
She was not one for music either, so the house was silent. Not even a Christmas cookie to be found. We had a wonderful dinner on Christmas day (she was a fabulous cook) but that was about as far as it went. There was no more family, no one dropping in, no fun at all. I felt like crying all day. (This in itself tells you that I had as yet in my young life experienced none of life's much greater sorrows.)
I realized at that point that to me Christmas was being with family, it had nothing to do with presents at all. How I missed my family that day.
The following year my mom invited my mother-in-law and brother-in-law to join all of us for Christmas. At least I got be with my own family again, but my Christmases were never quite the same after that. But how could it be? Children grow up and move, things change, they must.
But that is how life is supposed to be. We must move through the stages, learning as much as we can from each of them establishing new ways of doing things that suit for awhile and then making changes again where necessary.
Now, after sharing my most disappointing Christmas with you, tomorrow I will tell you about the best Christmas surprise ever!