Do you think it is too early to start planning for Christmas? I don’t, I usually want to start planning on the first of January. Luckily I am married to a sensible woman who knows how to keep me in check.
Christmas to me is an event, the only one we care about for the whole year. It’s not about religion; it’s about getting the family together in the same place at the same time. It is spending the day without arguments; since I make everyone promise to leave their differences at the door.
We do our Christmas thing a little different from other people. There is no Christmas dinner or big sit down. Everyone has four or five places they need to go since we have such an extended family, so at my house there is no time. You come when you like, you leave when you want. Everything is set up early so there is enough for everyone. By the time it gets to be evening everyone is off to whatever list of Christmas dinners they want to attend and my wife and I have a peaceful evening by our self.
For the giving of presents the rules are simple. Since I don’t run around to pick up presents, if you don’t come, you don’t get anything. If you do come and leave before we open our presents you can take yours with. Otherwise you get it when everyone gets theirs. We first have the kids play till they are tired, then we see they get fed, and then we open presents. That is usually by late afternoon.
We also have a special little thing going. When someone leaves, they get a special little thank you gift at the door. That is just to say thanks for coming (and to some thanks for leaving). It’s usually just a token, something nice, like flowers and a chocolate for the women and Biltong and a pen knife for the guys – nothing expensive and different every year.
The kids usually like the thanks for leaving presents. They usually get a container filled with cheap (very cheap) toys, sweets and some girls or boys stuff, depending who gets it. Last year we put it in little bags, the year before in plastic jars shaped like ducks. Its lots of fun to them.
So that is the event – without planning the décor or anything else. You can see why I start planning early.