Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Real Meaning of Christmas

The Real Meaning of Christmas by Susan Meier

There are 11 children in my family. Seven girls. Four boys. All of my sisters are married, three of my brothers are married, and several of my nieces and nephews are married and have children. There are 63 people in my "immediate" family.

We have a Christmas tradition in our family of a cookie exchange. The deal is that you state your intention to be part of the exchange then Tammy (my youngest sister) sends us an email letting us know how many people are participating. This year there are 12. That means each of us will pick a type of cookie and make 12 dozen of that one kind. (I'm the peanut butter blossom girl.) Then December 20, we bring all our cookies to my mom's and 'exchange' them for one dozen of everybody else's.

Everybody involved ends up with 12 dozen different kinds of cookies for company but everybody also only has to bake one kind.

It's probably my favorite family tradition. And we've got some whoppers.

With 63 people in the immediate family, we have enough people (especially kids) to have our own personal Easter egg hunt. We have a sort of unofficial competition to see who can get my mother the best gift for her birthday. Every Wednesday morning in the summer, one of us hosts "breakfast" for the family members lucky enough not to have a real job -- or who have summers off because of working for a school district. My sister Laura is usually the winner for favorite breakfast. She makes waffles with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

In October the kids dress up and take part in a Halloween parade. This year they were the Flintstones, complete with PVC pipe Flintmobile. In a way, they were their own little float.

Every Friday after Thanksgiving, rather than battle shoppers, my mother hosts the cookie painting party for her grandkids. She bakes sugar cookies and makes colorful icing and the kids paint the cookies with the icing. They go on a Christmas tree in the family room with bubble gum and candy canes.

There are enough of us that if every 'family' within the family chips in $50 we can buy my mother a major appliance for Christmas.

In a lot of ways we sound like a small town, but really we're just family. We like to be entertained -- maybe too much -- and we enjoy each other's company. We were taught to share, to be generous, to include everybody in every baseball game, football game and/or card game we played and those lessons carried over into adulthood.

I sometimes look at my family and our traditions and wonder. . . Are we a tad crazy? A little too in love with entertainment and stimulation. . .Or is this what life’s really all about? Sharing your toys, including everybody in the game, and baking enough cookies that everybody gets a dozen.

Merry Christmas. This year, share your toys, include everybody in the game and bake an extra dozen cookie to give to someone in your town, your church, or at your office, who might not get a cookie this year.

Susan Meier

Susan Meier
MAID IN MONTANA, Harlequin Romance, 6/09
THE SWEETEST CHRISTMAS WISH, Harlequin Romance 12/09


Susan said...

Good morning, everybody!

I just want to mention that I made a mistake in my signature line. MAID IN MONTANA and THE SWEETEST CHRISTMAS WISH are next year's books. LOL


Susan said...

I also want to express my "sympathies" to those of you battling weather!

We had ice last night but by this morning it had turned to rain so we're doing okay!


Kim Watters said...

Good Morning Susan. Thanks for being here with us today. Wow, and I thought my husband's family was big, but yours takes the cake. Or cookies:) Your family has wonderful traditions. We do a golf tournament, cookie exchange each December and all the cousins get together the weekend before Christmas have do a white elephant gift exchange.
PS. I fixed your signature line for you.

Susan said...

White elephant Christmas gifts? That's fuuny.

We set a $25 limit on our gifts so the buyer really has to put some thought into them.

I ran out of patience with my sister's gift though. I wanted to buy her a certain sweater. Kmart had it on sale for $29...which is okay since it's close to $25. But I never made it to Kmart. Ended up getting it at TJ Maxx for $ I'm way over, but I'm pretending I bought it at Kmart!


Kathy Otten said...

Wow you have a big family! Mine is small and spread out all over the country. I'd love to do a cookie exchange, but I'm the primary baker so I'll probably bake three different kinds,plus fudge and peanut brittle. We usually jsut have a small, intimate Christmas.

Deb Mullins said...

I thought it was chaos in my family growing up with four girls, but maybe that had more to do with also having only one bathroom!

Susan, your traditions sound wonderful. I accidentally created a tradition with my sons over the years. Every year I get them goofy underwear as a present. I mean really, who else but your mom can give you crazy underwear for Christmas? It satisfied my practical side as well as my sense of the ridiculous. The kids are headed back east to see dad for Christmas so we exchanged gifts early. I didn't think the boys paid much attention to it until this year when my 19 year old lamented that there had been no funny underwear this time! Of course what he hadn't realized was that we weren't done yet...LOL Goofy underwear was indeed present and accounted for!

Susan said...

Deb, I love your underwear tradition! As your kids get older they will like it even more. Especially after they're married. Won't that be a hoot!

Every year I get my kids underwear and socks. Every year. Every year they change a bit. I've gone from underoos to tidy whities to Mom, really? Underwear? I seriously can buy my own underwear!

Kathy, the small intimate Christmas sounds really nice. My husband's family is scattered, so we have Christmas day lunch with only his parents (and our kids) and take a weekend to visit his brother and sister across the state. Both of those celebrations are small.

My mother can't wrap her head around the concept that a house would be quiet on Christmas day. LOL


Carol Webb said...

Susan, you have some really wonderful traditions. I love the Halloween parade and the baking of cookies the day after Thanksgiving.

I went out for the first time in years the day after Thanksgiving to do some shopping. A big mistake since I really hate shopping and I'm not a very good bargain hunter. I think your mother was brilliant to have a cookie painting day on that day.

Thanks for your post. You've got me thinking of trying some new traditions!

Susan said...

Thanks, Carol!

We do love our traditions. LOL

In fact, sometimes I wonder if we aren't just over the top.