Christmas Traditions: A Grand Idea

If you’d told my brothers, sister and I growing up that we came from a broken home, we would have burst out laughing. There was nothing broken about the way we lived. We saw our dad every weekend and sooner if we needed him. We spent the holidays with him and treasured Christmastime especially. What other kids did we know who got two Christmases on a grand scale like we did, filled with love and fun and giving? None! We were so fortunate, so blessed!

We loved our mom and dad and though they could not live together, they respected each other and never had an unkind word to say about each other. They raised us with understanding, patience and lots of love.

I hope you enjoy these Christmas stories about our experiences at each of their Christmas celebrations. The love of God and their love was thick in the air!

I want to thank my friend Jason for asking me to be a guest blogger. The two stories below were first published on my blog and will soon be published in a book titled “A Mother’s Ring and Other Memories” by Libby Baker Sweiger, coming out early in 2012. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks again, Jason!

Christmas Mom-Style

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”

— Burton Hillis

If my mom missed us on Christmas Eve, she never said so. We were over at my dad’s having an uproariously good time, which I will tell you about. My mom stayed home alone on Christmas Eve and wrapped our gifts. She always built a fire in the fireplace for us to come home to, and made popcorn for us in a big wooden bowl with matching little bowls and hot chocolate. We all got to open a gift from her that night, and we always knew what it would be: our new jammies.

We loved coming home on Christmas Eve to our cozy house and mom. She loved Christmas and the whole biblical history of the night. Our crèche was out by the fireplace, our tree was decked out beautifully, a real one despite my mom’s allergies.

We would hug and all tell our story of being at dad’s and show mom our presents. She would exclaim over each one. Then we would open our Christmas Eve present from her and rush to put them on. We would all sit together by the fire and drink cocoa, and mom would read the Bible, about the very first Christmas. We would huddle together and drink in the warmth of the fire, hot chocolate and love. There weren’t any other presents around the tree, for Santa hadn’t come yet.

Soon we’d say our good nights, give hugs and kisses and go to bed. Mom stayed downstairs for a while. The next morning couldn’t come fast enough. We all had to wait at the top of the stairs until my grandparents arrived. They came with more presents perhaps, we couldn’t really see them, but I knew them so I’d say so! When we got the word, the four of us would charge down the stairs and into the living room for Christmas morning…It was beautiful, breathtaking.

Our stockings were stuffed, and we opened them first. Santa had been generous (they were my mom’s favorite part!), and my grandparents brought more love into the house so that it was bursting with it. More gifts to spoil us with, their great smiles and laughter so that our Christmas morning overflowed with it.

Soon my grandmother left to go home to the huge turkey she had in the oven, my grandfather her always gentlemanly escort by her side. Later that day would be Christmas dinner with our wonderful matching cousins and more merriment than the heart could hold!

Dad’s Christmas Tradition

“The light of the Christmas star to you. The warmth of home and hearth to you. The cheer and goodwill of friends to you. The hope of a child-like heart to you. The joy of a thousand angels to you. The love of the Son and God’s peace to you.”

― Sherryl Woods, An O’Brien Family Christmas

Christmas Eve at Dad’s was something to look forward to all year. You may wonder why he isn’t in the photo. He is probably taking it. However, Uncle Dick, his spirited brother is also AWOL. They could be recovering from their wrestling match.

Wrestling match? Now what does that have to do with Christmas, you may wonder. It’s a Baker family tradition. It was born out of the belief that Christmas is about children and giving them the best possible Christmas ever. One year, to our collective delight, my dad and Uncle Dick started rough housing right in the middle of Betty, my stepmom’s, impeccable decorations. We all squealed, laughed and clapped. It evolved into a wrestling match and became a family Christmas Eve tradition. Uncle Dick usually won. When you consider he had at least a 60 pound weight advantage on dad, was unbelievably strong and nearly six feet tall, my dad’s height, it’s not too surprising. But the sight of them was! They looked like two big bears rumbling around the living room. As I look back, I think their faces were red from the exertion involved in missing everything they could have hit, including their spell-bound audience, and in not hurting each other! We laughed uproariously! It was so fun.

Shortly after the wrestling match, we were so wound up. Suddenly, there was the sound of sleigh bells coming from the roof. It’s Santa we all yelled! The excitement level in the room escalated. We all ran into the living room where the tree was to see that it was surrounded knee deep in presents. What lucky kids we thought, Santa visited us at our Dad’s and at our Mom’s.

On a side note. In this picture I was in ninth grade and too old to believe in Santa Claus. The babies in the picture are my darling sister, Sara, next to Scott on the floor, and my cousin, Julie, is in the back being held by my sister, Suzy. Betty, the lady on the far left in beige and gold — is my lovely stepmom and Sara’s mom. The lady in the red skirt is Marlys, Julie’s mom, Uncle Dick’s wife. In the back standing on the left is my wonderful Grandma Dorothy who my father says I am like, and my grandfather Pop is on the right, Dad’s dad.

What a beautiful blended family we were, and we didn’t even know it!

We adjourned to a wonderful dinner, lots of conversation and more laughter. I always love a party where wrestling matches, the entertainment of children and general frivolity come before dinner. 

We played with our gifts. We checked with Dad, Betty and Sara to make sure they liked theirs and finally said our goodbye to the Baker family Christmas. Oh, how would we wait another year? Dad drove us home. We were quiet and sleepy in the car. When my dad is happy, he gets the urge to sing. He sang “Mack the Knife” to us, our favorite of his many renditions. What a treat! What a perfect evening!

About Libby Baker Sweiger

I’m a seasoned chat gal who’s been around social media a few years, blogging and Facebooking for more than seven, and now tweeting almost three. I was silly and gave up my MySpace account because it was a beautiful antique with nice people and musicians. I’m on Google+, too. Personally I love God, my family and my terrific friends online and off…I’ve been blessed, and I’m thankful for them all! My family includes my husband Mike, sweet daughter Abby, dad, Bill, mom, Barb, brothers, Bill and Scott, sisters, Suzy and Sara, and more beautiful cousins and nieces and nephews than I can count! I love them all with all my heart.

Professionally, I am a social media coach, blog for business and have written a book I am searching for a publisher for. Life is never dull!

Editor’s Note: I would sincerely like to thank Libby for sharing her special family Christmas stories with my readers. She is an amazing, beautiful woman with a wonderful, loving heart. If you haven’t already, please check out her blog and read this amazing, heartfelt post, which celebrates the gift of life and the joy of motherhood.


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