We talked a lot about how we wanted to celebrate our first Christmas as Mr. & Mrs. Rowe. Would we travel on Christmas Eve? Which family would we eat Christmas dinner with? Would we buy people presents, use alternative gift catalogs, make gifts?
Sometime in early November, we decided that we’d host both of our families at our apartment for Christmas dinner. We knew it’d be crowded with 11 adults and 2 babies, but we didn’t care – we were sure it would be our best Christmas yet. We vowed to be creative about Christmas presents, and hoped to make them all rather than spend hours at the malls this year. We promised to limit our spending on each other and to be creative about how we used the money.
We finally settled on one gift for everyone: using Tastebook, we made a cookbook called “Rowe Family Recipes” and included 50 recipes that we had tried and approved as one of our favorites. Each family got a cookbook, each lady in the family would get a small gift that was personalized to who they are and where they are in life, and for each guy in the family, we’d make a basket full of homemade goodies.
Christmas morning came. As usual, I was up by 6am, drinking coffee, enjoying the silence and the lights on the Christmas tree. There’s something incredibly magical about the early hours of Christmas morning. With the looming threat of snow, I checked the radar and discovered that my family would likely not be able to make it down for Christmas dinner. We decided for everyone’s safety that they would come down the next day and we moved up Christmas dinner with D’s family so they could avoid possible snowfall here in the ATL. We had a delightful dinner with them. It was much less hectic than it would have been with both families here, and we truly enjoyed each other’s company for the brief time that we got to spend with one another.
This was the first time I was “on my own” for Christmas since 2003. Christmas of 2003 was the worst of my life – I was in Ohio, far from my family and cried most of the day. It was the first Christmas I had been away from my family, and I vowed to never spend Christmas away from them again. So you can imagine how hard it was for D and I to make the intentional decision to stay at home this Christmas and keep Christmas morning to ourselves. We decided that we wanted to start our own traditions now, so that when we have little Rowes there are certain traditions already in place.
It wasn’t until I realized that I wouldn’t see my family on Christmas day that I began to realize how special this Christmas would turn out to be. It was super hard to be away from my family. You see, Christmas is our family holiday. My mom instilled in us the spirit of giving from a very early age. For as long as I can remember I have been more excited about what I give other people than about the presents I open myself. And on that very special day, the seven of them were together – playing in the inches of snow given to the North Georgia mountains. D & I were at home, just the two of us, for most of the Christmas weekend. And yet this may have been my best Christmas yet. This was my first “grown-up” Christmas. Christmas was peaceful. Quiet. Christ-focused. Simple.
As it turned out, I didn’t see my family the day after Christmas either. We celebrated Christmas as a family yesterday and I was pleased that the rest of my family stuck with a simple Christmas – we got almost all homemade gifts … I’ve got quite a talented family!
Candles made out of beeswax, made by my Mommie
Amazing wood cross made by my sister and her fiance'
Adorable calendar of the twins made by my other sister (and their mommie!)
I missed them on Christmas – and it was hard to be away from the rest of the family – but our Christmas celebration was just as special yesterday as it would have been on Christmas day. And when they left last night I realized something: As as we all get older, new traditions will take the place of old ones, our one family will become multiple families, and we will hold the spirit of creative giving close to our hearts, forever.