Our “Alternative” Christmas

| January 12, 2015 | 13 Comments
Mary's "Second Christmas". Photo by I Tell Stories.

Mary’s “Second Christmas”. Photo by I Tell Stories.

In the fall, I learned that my brother- and sister-in-law were planning to meet up with her side of the family in Barbados for Christmas. Her family is all in England, making time together harder to come by.

Since Christmas is one of my favourite holidays, and Mary, now 3, was for the first time very excited about the holiday and Santa, I was a bit concerned about whether their absence would put a bit of a damper on the festive season.

But my trusty sister-in-law had a plan. We would have a “fake” Christmas before they left. The second weekend of December (which luckily happened to be a weekend with a huge amount of snow still outside), we gathered at their house and had our normal Christmas Eve traditions: the kids made miniature gingerbread houses, played together, and were allowed to open their gifts from Nanny and Grampy, which always includes a new set of jammies. Sporting their new sleepwear, they all settled in for a special sleepover, all of the cousins together on “Christmas Eve”, which isn’t the norm and was a fun change for the kids.

Little ones safely in bed, my sister-in-law and I had time to visit and plan our 2nd Annual Family Day at Montebello (more to come on that in another post). The next morning, my nephew woke us up excitedly to announce that Santa had come in the night. We had explained to the kids that Santa, knowing the kids were going away, was going to be making a special trip for them – earlier than usual.

Seeing my daughter empty her stockings alongside her cousins, and my nephew helping her open her gifts from Santa was heartwarming. Later, my sister-in-law and I went for a snowy hike around their property while her husband worked on our traditional Christmas meal. The smell of turkey in the oven and kids giggling welcomed us in when we returned.

After our dinner and some Christmas crafts, it was time to go home.

This “alternative” Christmas for us was a great idea to still celebrate together, despite the fact that half the family would be away on December 25. It also forced me to be organized, since Christmas “came early this year”, while also spreading out the festive season – Mary, Jon and I still celebrated on December 25.

In fact, Santa somehow knew Mary would be at her house on December 24, and she woke up excitedly the next morning to a “Second Christmas” (she didn’t receive more gifts than usual – they were just split between the two occasions). We then had a “quiet” Christmas with Nanny and Grampy in Perth.

I like the idea of a very traditional Christmas, but this change-up was refreshing for everyone involved and actually made for a very relaxing holiday.

Have any of you done anything “non-traditional” for the holiday season?

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Category: Blogs, Christmas, Family, Holidays, Holidays, Winter

About the Author ()

Samantha lives in Stittsville with her husband, Jon, and their daughter, Mary. Samantha works full-time for the federal government and also enjoys writing part-time, including as a writer for Ottawa Parenting Times Magazine. Feel free to check out her website – samanthaball.ca and follow her on Twitter @I_Tell_Stories

Comments (13)

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  1. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    loved this article. I do think it was a great idea to celebrate early so that the family could celebrate together and whilst children are still young it really doesn’t make a big difference. Perhaps your daughter will remember for ever the year Santa came twice!

  2. Cheryl says:

    What a nice idea. Great that you could still celebrate with your whole family even thought it wasn’t a “real” Christmas I am sure it felt like it 🙂

  3. Veronica S. says:

    How wonderful for everyone!

  4. Shelley Young says:

    I have had to do this for a long time, have 2 Christmases. Since my husband and I moved away from home we always went back to celebrate Christmas with our family…which meant that OUR OWN Christmas at our house was always bumped until Dec 27 or Dec 28 whenever we`d come home. And for the first few years after we had our kids this tradition continued…but now we`ve finally started having our own Christmas at hour house with the kids…but it`s funny – somehow it just doesn`t feel the same!

  5. Maggie C says:

    Certainly a refreshing idea! Great to have change in life even during the holidays!

  6. Stephanie LaPlante says:

    Definitely more fun to celebrate with family whether it be early or late.

  7. heidi c. says:

    Since we live away from most of both of our families, we have been having Christmas when we could the past few years. Christmas in July does help to mix things up and spread out the presents a little as well :).

  8. Sam says:

    Thanks for the comments. It was a truly memorable experience!

  9. KD says:

    One year I was overseas, and went shopping in the evening on Christmas! It was a Muslim country, so Christmas wasn’t a holiday and stores are typically open in the mid-afternoon / early evening. It was very different for sure!

  10. Victoria Ess says:

    Aw that’s a really lovely idea! Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. Elaine Buonsante says:

    We, too, had an early Christmas with my extended family when we had plans to be away over the holidays. It was wonderful; we celebrated twice with both sides of the family.

  12. kathy downey says:

    When family and friends are together,thats all thet matters

  13. kathy downey says:

    I believe Christmas can be any time you want it,and if everyone can be together its amazing

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