Growing up on a farm in western Kansas, I was pretty much raised as an only child. My siblings were all quite a bit older and most already had families of their own. The main two things I remember was that on Christmas Eve my mother would make a big pot of chili so my siblings and their families could have dinner as they traveled home for Christmas at different times of the evening – the pot was always hot. Christmas presents were usually opened on Christmas Eve since Christmas Day was always about family and food. We would usually rent the basement of city hall to hold everyone. It was an extended family celebration that went on all day with lots of food and people coming and going all day. Games and love abounded. But it was a peaceful time in the love that was there.
I raised my boys away from the farm and family and didn't travel much due to weather conditions, so we created our own celebrations, usually with a lot of friends around. We still did the pot of chili on Christmas Eve and we would go to Christmas Eve services at church. Always a tree and brightly wrapped presents and as much celebration with friends as possible. We tried to maintain the tradition of peace in our lives during the season.
Now I have turned holiday traditions over to my daughter-in-law. It does please me that both of my boys have still kept the chili tradition on Christmas Eve. Now I watch them start their own traditions. But in my mind it is always family, love, peace, food, beautiful crafts, trees and presents. And that pot of chili!