My Christmas is the same every single year. With the exception of when I was 4 and caught the chicken pox from my sister’s being at school all day and coming home covered in infection. But for the most part, the exact same each year. I told Royce when we started dating that if we got married I’d never give up my family Christmas… I think he thought I was kidding, but now that he’s had Christmas at the Jelinski household he doesn’t ever want to give it up either. Thankfully, my one sister married an only child so he’s cooperated with the “never missing Jelinski family Christmas” too.
So what’s so great about Jelinski Christmas? Tradition.
Christmas Eve might be my favourite part of it all. My mom used to want to avoid making a big dinner the night before Christmas so we came up with making a huge spread of appetizers. Each of us pick two of our favourites (mine always being chicken fingers and mozza sticks) and we eat in the living room by the Christmas tree. No tv, just Christmas music (Kenny G if my dad picks it that year). After we’re all finished eating, my mom grabs 3 presents (now 6 since each of us has a husband or boyfriend) and we unwrap new pajama pants she sews us each year with fabric she picks to suit our personalities. Royce’s have skis all over them. And then we hand my mom a gift… the same one each year. A picture of my sister’s and I with Santa. We fought it pretty hard in our teen years. We missed one year and all felt so guilty that we’ve cooperated ever since.
Then we all put on our new PJ’s, my dad makes terrible tasting homemade hot chocolate from the stove that often has too much cocoa and not enough sugar or vice versa, and then we pile into the van. Thermos’ in tow, Joanne always spills hers before we even leave the driveway, and we’re off on a twinkle tour of The Enchanted Forest (an amazing Christmas light show that you drive through). Last year we made our first ever compromise. Our family has grown so large that the previous year we had to leave the boys behind (boys being the boyfriends/fiances). We decided we’d rent a limo instead since we weren’t about to give up on tradition. I don’t know what we’re going to do when babies come along.
When we get home we watch Christmas movies and drink wine, an adjustment from prepping the fireplace with milk and cookies when we were younger. And then we wait for Christmas morning to come.
In the morning, Joanne and I always get up first. We used to sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve but now that we’re both married we just go into eachother’s rooms in the morning to wake the other one up. We tiptoe downstairs to check out our stockings (always placed evenly on the living room couches) and then we make the coffee. We’ve taken charge of filling my mom’s stocking since hers is always shamefully empty since she does all the shopping. As soon as coffee is on and the remaining stockings are filled, we go wake everyone else up. All in our pjs, my dad turns on the Christmas music and we take turns opening gifts. Always before breakfast and rarely when it’s light out.
After gifts are all opened, my mom starts cooking for the day, Michelle usually falls asleep, my dad puts on a new movie we gave him, Joanne avoids the new movie because she never likes it, and I fall somewhere in between it all. Later that evening, we all dress up and have dinner together. Making our first toast to my mom and then our next to something great that happened that year. Our latest ones have been to my dad’s major back surgery recovery, my sister’s engagement, my engagement, and I’m sure this year it’ll be to new husbands.
The rest of the evening ends perfectly, usually sharing funny stories of when we were kids. Like when my dad couldn’t figure out how Joanne and I’s room fan broke as kids… it may or may not have been from us throwing stuffed animals at it when it was turned on, wanting to see them fly. A story we admitted to almost a decade later.
Our Christmas has never been about presents, though my parents spoil us rotten, it’s always been about the tradition of taking those 2 days each year to spend together. Now that we’re all grown up and living in different cities, I wouldn’t give up that time for the world. If you don’t have any Christmas traditions, maybe this year is the perfect year to start. And if you do, I’d love for you to share them in my comments!
#1- My Hannah Bear ready for Christmas. #2- Our stockings laid out on Christmas Eve. #3- Our new tradition, Jelinski Fort Building (Michelle’s boyfriend Mike, Michelle, and Royce) . #4- Michelle & Royce in the limo last year.