Stillwater Style Winter 2021 - Page 12

New holiday traditions keep the family together

BY MICHELLE CHARLES STILLWATER STYLE

As our parents have gotten older , our family has begun adapting its holiday traditions with the various siblings taking on responsibility for events that once would have been hosted at the parents ’ homes .

My brother and and my brother-in-law each host a Thanksgiving dinner most years , depending on what their kids are doing .
My husband and I host a big get-together a few days after Christmas where the family packs into our modestly-sized house to catch up with each other and – it goes without saying in the Charles family – share a meal . My husband Bob makes a big pot of homemade chicken and noodles that don ’ t last very long at all and some other kind of homemade soup . Everyone else brings enough side dishes or snacks to cover the kitchen table .
Nobody ever leaves one of our homes hungry .
We play a rousing game of dirty Santa with certain branches of the family who shall remain nameless working together ruthlessly to snag the gifts they want .
The rest of us mostly take what we get and try to make sure the kids don ’ t get stuck with tea towels or a scented candle .
To make things more interesting , we ’ ve started giving each party a themed dress code .
One year it was “ awkward family photos ” with coordinating outfits encouraged . We ’ ve also done ugly Christmas sweaters , slogan T-shirts and year before last – we skipped 2020 due to COVID-19 – it was Christmas pajamas .
My daughters and I have way too much fun being a little extra with our outfits . We especially love dressing my husband , a big , solid man who is not wacky at all but has been remarkably tolerant as our ideas have gotten crazier .
The year we made custom-designed and handpainted sweatshirts with song lyrics that apply to Christmas , he of course got a Spice Girlsinspired shirt that had a Christmas package on it and said “ I ’ ll tell you what I want , what I really , really want .”
Last year we decided on the pajama theme immediately after finding a size XL onesie that looked like Ralphie ’ s pink bunny suit from “ A Christmas Story .” And the poor man wore it even though he really needed an XXL . I don ’ t think anyone will ever forget that suit .
Our family has learned that as times change and your life changes , it ’ s important to hold on to what ’ s important even if you have to be flexible about how you do it .
We all realized a few years ago that our extended family wouldn ’ t see each other very often if we didn ’ t start doing something , so we ’ re developing new traditions that keep the old feeling of togetherness alive .
12 Stillwater Style | WINTER 2021