Christmas 2012 is my fifth Christmas spent with Brian, the fourth spent with the Kesler family and our first one as a married couple. So far it's been a pretty fantastic holiday season. We didn't see the lights at Temple Square or make gingerbread houses like we've done in past years, but other Kesler family traditions have held true. We all attended the Kesler Family Christmas Party on the 22nd, which included the traditional gift exchange (where Brian scored ten bucks and I got the game of Yahtzee) and a new tradition of having the grandparents talk about some of their fondest family memories. It was a fun and interesting night.
As for Christmas Eve, we watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Muppet Christmas Carol like we've done every year since I've known them. We watch them in the basement family room while gorging ourselves on a spread of holiday treats. Once all the secular fun is out of the way, we head upstairs to light the candles on the German nativity set and read about Christ's birth. In the candlelight we sing "Silent Night" in both English and German (only Courtney and Mama Kesler know all the words in German) and then write down our "gifts to baby Jesus" on little slips of paper and then tuck them into Jesus' stocking. Our gifts include things we are going to do for him, like be more generous or use our talents. We work on them throughout the next year.
Before heading to bed, the siblings all exchange their gifts to one another (we always draw names) and then we open our new pajamas and one other gift from the parents.
There's something comforting about traditions. In a world that is chaotic and ever-changing, both for good and for bad, it's nice to have things that are familiar. Things that bring us together and remind us what life's really about. It's about family, it's about friends, it's about love...
It's about giving. A new tradition was added today that I really enjoyed. We brought gifts to a family in need. A recently divorced mother without a job wrote to her Stake President for help and the Keslers volunteered. We all pitched in for gifts for the four children and delivered them today. To add to the Christmas spirit we sang them carols and the mother had tears in her eyes as she hugged Brian's mom and thanked her for what we had done. It felt good to help out.
I also personally paid for a customer's ring sizing today at work. They're a couple that I've grown fond of and I knew their holidays would be a little brighter without the extra expense. I didn't tell them the person that paid for their sizing was me... but they figured it out. You should have seen the look on their faces!
So my new tradition--and not just at Christmas time--is giving more of myself to others. I'm blessed with so much, it would be a shame not to share it.