My mom sadly hung up the phone.
“They aren’t coming. No one is coming.”
We looked around at the impeccably clean house. Tablecloths on and candles ready to be lit. The hors d’oeuvres table was a showcase of fanned out crackers and an impressive pattern of cheeses to sample. Clean wine glasses sat upside down in neat rows. Sprinkled sweets were neatly arranged on fancy tiered plates. The warm smell of the holiday ham was already making it’s way through the house.
This wasn’t the first time Christmas was cancelled or sparsely attended. Icy roads, expected heavy snowfall, and sub-zero temperatures were always a threat to the big family Christmas celebrations she and my dad hosted each year for his side of the family. After getting the idea from a friend, I said, “Why don’t we just have Christmas in July?” My mom proposed it to the aunts and they made it happen.
Now that we have done two July celebrations, everyone prefers our Christmas in July to it’s traditional winter counterpart. Here’s why:
Obviously, the main reason we started doing Christmas in July because of the harsh winter weather affecting travel. Although summer weather can be unpredictable, it is better for those who have to drive a distance. Thunderstorms come and go, but snow and ice stick around, affecting travel for days.
During a winter gathering, everyone must stay inside the majority of the time. At Christmas in July, much of the gathering can take place outside. You have room to do a variety of activities with a large group of people varying in age. Not to mention that kids are free to run off all the sugar cookies and be noisy without breaking fragile holiday decorations. Amen to that!
When you plan a Christmas in July, no one is stressed out with with all the shopping, wrapping, baking, Christmas card preparations, and the general fuss of the holiday. Being able to grill and have a pot-luck style celebration make food prep less stressful than Christmas dinners, too. Holiday hamburger or hotdog? Yes, please!
In July, you do not have to work around other family holiday celebrations, school or church programs, or work parties. It’s easier for all family members to get together. As families age and expand, aunts and uncles become grandparents. They may travel to spend the holiday with their own children and grandchildren. Older family members may have become snowbirds in Arizona or Florida. When the family Christmas is held the same weekend each July, everyone can plan on it and no one has to miss out.
Family Reunion or Vacation Style Christmas
The best part about Christmas in July is that it can be made into a family reunion or vacation depending on where your family would like to celebrate. You could have it at someone’s home or at a picnic shelter in a state park or near a pool and playground. We have a reunion style celebration at my uncle’s farm. There is plenty to do for all ages. The adults often snack, visit, and play card or yard games. The kids stay busy with running around and playing with bubbles, chalk, play-doh, flying kites, or making boats to float in a kiddie pool. One uncle even brought his large trampoline! The variety of activities allows for the generations to mix and it’s not unusual to find a great-uncle giving kite-flying tips or joining in on some water balloon mischief.
If you want to have more of a vacation celebration, summertime allows you to choose from a variety of fun venues. Renting a lodge or cabins on a lake or having Christmas at a campground allows you to relax as you celebrate. If you don’t want to worry about bad weather, just reserve a large room at a hotel and have fun swimming in the pool, playing board games, and carrying on your family’s favorite traditions.
Old & New Traditions
No matter what style of Christmas in July your family wants to do, you can still include favorite Christmas traditions. Putting up a Christmas tree, singing carols, eating reindeer cookies, and doing a gift exchange are all still fun in July! July is also the perfect time to start new traditions! You might want to change it up and exchange favorite things. Maybe your family wants to use your celebration as a time to give. Making fleece tie blankets for Project Linus, sweet cases for foster kids, packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, or making birthday cards for kids in the hospital are all activities young and old can do together.
Whether it’s 8 degrees or 88 degrees outside, what matters most when celebrating Christmas is knowing you will be together, bridging the generations, and making memories that last a lifetime. Now, that is a happy holiday.
Merry Christmas in July!
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