Christmas this year has been really great so far. I say "so far" because Chrsitmastide STARTS on with Christmas Day on December 25th, and lasts through Epiphany on January 6th - Thus, the 12 Days of Christmas.
I come from a somewhat large family, with many uncles, aunts, and cousins. When I was a kid, we started breaking up our Christmas celebrations into two events: On Christmas Eve, everyone would gather at my grandparents' house for a big family dinner, and some exchanging of gifts. This was quite the event, due to all the people involved. Lots of food, lots of merriment, and lots of laughter.
The next morning, Christmas Day, has always been for the nuclear family. My brother and I would wake up mom and dad, and rush to the stockings to see what Santa brought us. It was great fun.
Over the years, after having shared Christmas with the families of various friends and significant others, I've come to see how different families "do" Christmas. I think the one thing that has fascinated me the most has been The Opening of Gifts. Opening gifts takes a very long time in my family. Not because there is an overabundance of gifts or people, but because of how we've always done it - One person, and only one person, opens a gift, takes it out of the box, passes it around so everyone can get a look at it, plays with it for a while or tries it on or pantomimes it's actual use or whatever. Then it gets put to the side, and then it's the next persons turn to open a gift. You can imagine my shock when, after experiencing gift opening in this way for all my life, suddenly finding myself in situations where people all just grab gifts and begin tearing into them all at the same time, like a gift wrap tearing version of a 21 gun salute.
These days, the extended family is just about all long-distance. My mom, dad, brother, and boyfriend John (notice how the Oxford comma prevents that list from being awkward) all gather at my Grandmother's house on Christmas Eve. It's just us these days, so there's not big family feast. We've modified our tradition to be a simple buffet of finger foods and crudité. Then John and I hit the road, on Christmas Day, and go down to visit with John's family for a few days.
John's mom only had dial-up for the longest time down here, but finally came into the high-speed world this last year! Which is why I'm able to sit here and write this post from my laptop while sitting at the dining room table! Oh, and play SWTOR until my laptop locks up from overheating.. hehe ;P