Twenty years ago we called it Christmas Adventure because it conjured excitement and fun in the ears of one precious two and a half year old. I was introducing Benjamin to the man about whom I was becoming serious. We decided to do it in a field of Christmas trees where Benjamin could run wild through the piney woods and meet John outside, on his terms, and in his favorite element.
The next year we were a hip trio living in the city. We spent the day visiting Santa and seeing the Christmas Bears at Famous Barr. We each got a new special ornament for our tree, and afterward we had lunch at Crown Candy Kitchen where the tradition was born.
By 1989 Hannah had joined the group. I was at home being a full-time mom to our two kids when John won the gift of a riverfront hotel room. We used it for our, now annual, Christmas Adventure. From that year forward we kick off Christmas every year with an overnight somewhere, new ornaments, sometimes a holiday movie, and a fabulous brunch. We have had skinny Adventures and extravagant ones. Four of us can remember the year when the car window got stuck in the down position on Adventure weekend in a snowstorm. I was a full time mom that year, and John rode the bus to work. We had scrimped and saved for the big weekend. There was a dilemma… fix the window and go home, or…do what we actually did. We bought a roll of duct tape, and it was five weeks before we had enough money again to fix the window. But we came home that year with some fabulous German glass ornaments.
We always end Adventure weekend decorating the tree, eating cookies, switching out the cds and singing Santa Baby. For many years Santa was a big part of the weekend. After Eli came we took pictures of a big goofy teenager cuddling his little brother on Santa’s lap. Benjamin and Hannah shined up the Santa stories and added their own embellishments. In those years we had a favorite Santa who greeted Eli by name leaving him wondering how such an old man could remember so many names, when his mom and dad struggled over just three.
This year was our 20th Christmas Adventure anniversary. Our kids are 22, 18 and 12 now. John and I are what must be described as middle aged. Half of ninety can hardly be colored any other way. Still one of us has peanut butter and jelly striped hair, and the other one has newly superbly cool sideburns. We still seem hip at least to ourselves. On Friday we met up into NYC, saw a live show of Prairie Home Companion, and got our ornaments in Union Square. We recounted Adventures past, telling each other all the stories, and felt especially grateful to have gotten rid of THQCS…(the horrible quaint country store)
We are reminded of the richness of our traditions and these stories that make up our shared family history. Most especially we are glad for the luck of having fun together. Eventually we will add husbands and wives and grandbabies to our mix. Santa will likely make a comeback. But in the meantime we stand at a solid cool five. We called it Christmas Adventure in the beginning because of how that would sound to the ears of a small child. And since, we have lived up to the name. It has been an adventure… all of it. We are all glad to have each other, our colorful past, and this sweet life we still share together….