My family was strong on traditions, many were continued, amended, new ones added as we had our own family and they grew to adults.  Each season had it’s own.
     At Christmas time, we gathered on Christmas eve with extended family at my Dad’s home, our home, or my brother’s home for Christmas Dinner.  Dinner traditionally was a repeat of the Thanksgiving with the addition of some Smithfield cured ham.  Often, our table included one or more “strays.”  Over the years, the extra folks have included friends of one of the children who for various reasons could not return to their home state or country, or an immigrant family that was attending my parent’s church.
      Once we had children of our own, each Christmas Eve ended with hubby reading “The Night Before Christmas” to the kids. 
     Christmas morning the children were not allowed downstairs until the tree lights were on and one of us had checked to make sure that Santa had come, stockings dumped, a big breakfast, and gift opening in our own home.  We would put out turkey and ham, cookies, condiments, rolls, eggnog and other beverages and my husband’s family would come over for gift exchange.  Early in our family life, we sometimes had his parents staying with us, his sister and her family, my Dad and Mom, my brother and his family and until my sister moved out of state, her family too would come to our home on Christmas Day, sometimes in shifts and once when our home was much too small, all at one.  This one sent my husband and me separately but at the same time into the utility room, where both of us looked at each other, opened our mouths and created the “silent primal scream.”  Giggled at the stress relief and rejoined the love of the group.
     Now our kids are scattered with their families, our eldest and his family are here this year, and we will have the traditional turkey dinner tonight, including a young adult neighbor who is alone this year, and a neighbor couple with no kids at home.  “The Night Before Christmas” will be read to grandchildren that are not here by phone (I really think it is for our daughter).
     Tomorrow we will dump stockings, have the traditional big breakfast and gift exchange before son and his family drive across the state so that eldest grandson can also share Christmas with his other grands.  And now we are the grandparents, so we will travel to visit our other two children and their kids in their homes over the next few days.

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