The Second Most Important Element of Christmas – Family

Some of you might say that’s the first. Truthfully, it’s probably more of a tie, perhaps, but the way I see it in my life, Jesus is first. He is the reason for the season after all. However, without family and friends and those you love gathered around you, for me the season wouldn’t be complete. That’s why I always save some vacation time for Christmas…and my family is BIG. I need all the time I can get. 🙂

We just had the most magnificent Christmas in New England with my side of the family. Some of the most memorable highlights (and in NO particular order either) –

“Young adult” time with my first cousins, sister, and spouses the Sunday afternoon before the holiday watching the Patriots game at a cute local establishment in Reading, Mass – The Great American Tavern (Try their black bean dip & friend calamari. YUM!). It was so good to catch up with everyone; some of which I hadn’t seen in 3 years!

Surprising my mom with a quick visit Christmas Eve before heading to a local church service conducted by the only church in the center of my small hometown of Lunenburg, Massachusetts.

Church on Christmas Eve. Throughout the years, we’ve had difficulty getting there for one reason or another (timing, other family celebrations taking place at the same time, location). But, in the last few years, I’ve made a point of making the time and finding a church hosting a service wherever we may be. Last year, it was my former church in Florida. This year, the church in the center of my hometown. Celebrating the Reason for the season has got to be on my “must-do” list every year now. I’ve made it so.

Playing doubles cribbage with my father, step-mother, and husband before dinner. I had forgotten how much I enjoy that game and it’s so much more fun when you play with teams. We’ve got to do that more often!

Snow on Christmas day….just a dusting, but enough to say it was a “White Christmas”!

Christmas Snow 2012 Lunenburg Ma Lisa Sullivan

A White Christmas in Lunenburg, Massachusetts. 2012

Building a snowman in the snowstorm two days later. Though it delayed our return back to North Carolina, I made the most of it by making a new “friend” with my cousin Allison. Thanks, Al! 😉

Christmas Snowman Lisa Sullivan 2012

Me and my new (frozen) “friend”. 2012.

Seeing my step-brother and his family on Christmas Day. Though, I saw most everyone that day, it was seeing him (and the family) that was a welcome surprise. I hadn’t seen Chris in two years…again for whatever reason. They surprised us Christmas morning by a quick visit before heading home to enjoy the rest of the holiday together. I got to see our nephews open their gifts from us too. THAT was a treat. Thank you, Chris & Laura!

Watching classic films “Holiday Inn”, “White Christmas” and “Home Alone” Christmas Eve and Day. OK maybe “Home Alone” isn’t quite a classic in the same category as the other two, but it is one of my absolute favorite holiday belly-laughing traditions.

Day after Christmas lunch with my Mom at Longhorn Steakhouse in Leominster, Mass with Country Music playing in the background…and we even heard a Scotty McCreery song off his debut album too! (I still get a twinge of excitement every time I hear our Garner boy, Scotty playing when I’m outside of The Triangle.). My mom and I love Country music. It’s nice to share that in Leominster since Massachusetts isn’t generally known for its love of Country over all, though that seems to be changing. YAY!

Christmas 2012 Leominster MA Lisa Sullivan

With my husband and my Mom. Christmas 2012.

Pre-Christmas dinner at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. We haven’t celebrated Christmas together as a family in YEARS (again for one reason or another). I find that so incredibly sad so when I get a chance to do it, I jump on it…even if we had just driven 14 hours to get there the day before. Thanks, Lori for the idea and Aunt Nancy for the invitation. Drinks were perfect and dinner was delicious!

Seeing my entire immediate family…every single one of them. Spending quality time with as many of them as possible in a short amount of time. The holiday weekend for us began on Sunday and finished on Wednesday but in that time, we saw them all. So thankful for that!

Christmas 2012 Salo Family Lisa Sullivan

The “cool” kids – my nephew Jackson, my dad, and me! 2012

Spending Christmas with my husband and my best friend. That always reminds me of those whose spouses are away during the holidays, especially military spouses, and makes me so incredibly grateful that we are never apart at the holidays. Love you, Sweetie! 🙂

Christmas 2012 Lunenburg Ma Lisa Sullivan

Mike and I Christmas day relaxing before Round 2 of family visits. 🙂

You see, taking the time to spend quality time with family and the ones you love is so very important. I know many people who for whatever reason aren’t able to do that and some of which who choose not to. I don’t understand that myself but everyone has their reasons. For me, nothing is more important that faith, family, and friendships, nurturing them, honoring them, enjoying them. Everything else is secondary. Thus, the reason I save some of my vacation time for this season. I love what I do. Don’t get me wrong. It just doesn’t define me. The people in my life and my faith is what does. It chumps it all and makes for a wonderful holiday season spent with everyone I love.

Now on to the New Year. Hmmm…wondering what it will bring!

All images by Lisa Sullivan. Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.

2 Responses to “The Second Most Important Element of Christmas – Family”
  1. Tessa Madden says:

    Ann Gabhart (The Outsider, Summer of Joy): Christmas Eve when Christmas is shimmering on the brink, ready to spill over with its joy is my favorite time at Christmas. When I was a child, we went to my aunt’s house on Christmas Eve for dinner before opening the presents stacked under the cedar tree she’d brought in from the field to decorate. Every year she fixed the same traditional foods – turkey and dressing, fruitcake and punch. Maybe because I loved the punch so much or maybe because I was the baby of the family and she spoiled me, the making of the punch became my Christmas Eve privilege. Whatever the reason, as soon as I was old enough to stir and pour, I got to make the punch in the big cut-glass bowl with matching glass cups that hung down from the edge of the bowl on plastic hooks in between Christmases. Her punch recipe was basic – a can of frozen orange juice, a can of pineapple juice and a can of grapefruit juice. A few spoons of sugar softened the bite of the grapefruit juice. Then right before we sat down to eat, I added Ginger Ale and spooned in big globs of orange sherbet. After the meal, everybody else drank the punch with their fruitcake, but I preferred cornsticks warm from the oven with mine. My aunt’s been gone these many years, but we still have orange sherbet punch spiked with fizzy cola on Christmas Eve. Some of the younger generation have plopped in the orange sherbet on occasion, but no one has wanted to take the spoon out of my hand. And so I continue each year to stir the juices together in the same punch bowl of old while the talk and laughter of my mother, my sisters and our husbands, our children and grandchildren circle around me like a hug. Then as I sip the orange sweetness out of the sparkling glass cup, the loving memory of those who are no longer there to gather with us fills my heart. A tear of past sadness mixed with the present joy. Family sharing Christmas – that is surely the tradition that matters most to me.

    • Thank you for sharing that story, Tessa. I felt as though I was right there with you in the memories. And now I want to try that orange sherbert punch! Care to share the recipe? 😉

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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