Christmas in our family has changed over the last few years. With the loss of both of my grandparents and then my father, our celebration together has grown very small. Growing up, we all spent Christmas Eve night at my grandparents house so we could wake up together Christmas morning. The dinner that night usually consisted of seafood, followed by adult shenanigans after ushering us kids off to bed.

We would have a great breakfast that next morning, open gifts and then just enjoy the day together, watching football and playing with our new toys. One of my favorite parts of that day was drinking egg nog or hot chocolate out of my grandmothers old Santa mugs — a tradition I started with my children when they were little.

As I got older and had my own family, we would trade holidays back and forth between all of the families. My dad had started a tradition of having a Christmas Eve dinner at their home and then we would drive over to my grandparents the next morning. It was especially important for us to be with as much family as possible, as we were the ones with the grandkids that everyone wanted to be with and love on.

But now that they’re all gone, the holidays are still a little sad. We continue some of their traditions, but it will never be the same. During my dad’s last Christmas with us, he randomly insisted that we go to the Chinese buffet for lunch and now our boys have adopted that as their own tradition in keeping their “BB’s” memory alive.

We started some of our own traditions. I do not believe in fulfilling every item my children put down on their wish lists. We adopt children, families and senior citizens and shop for them together as a family. We take trips instead of buying presents as the memories we make are worth so much more than a toy they’ll never play with.

I recently heard on the radio of the “four present rule” which consists of something they want, something they need, something they wear and something they read. I was so inspired and intrigued by this concept, that I immediately decided that that would be our theme this year.

We get so caught up in the rush of the holidays, trying to find that perfect gift or making the perfect meal that sometimes we forget what this time of year is all about.

I would give anything to have just one more holiday with my beloved family members that have passed. Just one more time around the dining room table telling the same old stories over and over, watching my grandmother grit her teeth as my grandfather recites his famous line “that reminds me of an old girlfriend of mine.”

Keep in mind that they were married for 56 years and met as college freshmen, there were very few “old girlfriends” he referred to, but he loved getting a rise out of his bride.

I hope you all have a blessed Christmas. I thank you for your loyalty to our newspaper and for taking the time to read my column. Enjoy the season with your loved ones and always hold them close.

Elizabeth Engelhardt is the publisher for the Seguin Gazette. Her column runs every other week. You can e-mail her at elizabeth.engelhardt@seguingazette.com .

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