Over the years, Sam and I have learned to celebrate Christmas in a lot of different situations. From him being in Iraq one year, to just the two of us stationed in California years ago, and last year here at Ft Bliss by ourselves.
While we have our own traditions and memories, it is nice to go home for this holiday when we can. We made a promise that as long as it was feasible financially and logistically for us, our family would head home to see relatives for Christmas every other year. This year, we go home to Colorado to see mine. Which means we may finally have a chance at snow for Christmas, although even in El Paso last year we got a dusting. Which was unusual.
When I was little, all four of us kids crowded into one room each year to spend the night on Christmas Eve. This usually ensued in a lot of bickering and giggles and pleas of, “Go to sleep or Santa won’t get here!” along with sneaking down the stairs around 2am to peek at how many presents were under the tree and who got the biggest one.
I didn’t grow up in a military family, so seeing a post you’re stationed on/near prep for the holidays is pretty fun. We attended a Christmas party a few weeks where they had crafts for kids, and one of the soldiers dressed up like Santa to take pictures with the kids. Everyone got a stocking after.
Sam has half days the entire week leading up to Christmas, which gives us a lot of time to pack and get ready to leave here.
Christmas at my house is one of my favorite memories. The night before we head out to the Christmas Eve service at my parent’s church where my dad is the pastor, and sing some of the Christmas hymns by candlelight. That night we stay up late, but there is always that sense of a little sadness when my parents bring the presents out. Even at 29 the magic of Santa is still a hard thing to shake. We all wake up early and open presents, then have the breakfast my mom made the night before. I can’t wait to see my 3 year old open all of hers. This is her 4th Christmas but really will be the first one where she might “get” it a little.
After breakfast is stockings, usually little trinkets and fun things like socks, notepads, accessories for a cell phone, etc. Then we spend the morning sitting around and talking. Clean up is a careful time – one year we threw away a several hundred dollar gift card everyone had chipped into buy – and never found it in the wrapping paper.
As much as I love having our own traditions and being in our own home for the holidays, I’m so excited to be able to go back and spend this one with my family.
How do you celebrate Christmas? Any special traditions? Will you be headed home this year?