Tonight after the treats were eaten and the kids toys were played with again and again, I stepped outside to snap a few pictures of the Christmas lights (even though there's no "snapping" with an iPhone camera...). I heard voices and looked across the street. Our neighbors must have been having a party and their guest were just leaving.
The sight brought back for me a childhood memory. In that house across the street was where I grew up and where, when I was a child, my mom's brother's families would come visit for Christmas. A few years after we moved in my father passed away. For the next several years my aunts, uncles, and cousins spent Christmas Eve with my mom, my brother, and my sister. For the longest time, I thought that's what Christmas was--an extended party with your extended family.
After a couple of years, my cousins no longer spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day with us. I remember I asked my mom why. She said that their kids were getting older and they needed to spend Christmas together with their families. It made me sad, but I came to understand.
In the decades since we were all together for Christmas, our families have grown. Now my cousins are getting to the age where their own kids are having kids and having Christmas Eve and Christmas day at their own homes. Soon, it will happen to us. Our kids will most likely marry and start their own traditions and my wife and I will hopefully come over to visit. Life evolves.
But for now, we enjoyed our day together. The kids allowed us to sleep in. My wife's parents came over and we had a wonderful time. And one day in the future, my children will drive by our house (even if we're no longer living here...) and, if we've done our job, they'll remember those cold December days when we spent Christmas together as a family and hopefully they'll remember that they were good days.