Come Advent 4, Christmas Day had really turned into "Atheist Kids Get Presents Day" in my head -- it just felt really divorced from the religious meaning of Christmas.
In some ways I've been really engaged with Advent this year (weekday morning prayer, etc.) but I also really haven't been tapped into the actual mentality of expectant waiting (in part 'cause of December being so full of various stress, so all my energy's gone into that).
I have had Advent hope and expectation about the fact that I will get two whole days with my best friend (having not had a her in meatspace since secular New Year's).
Christmas Eve/Day was nice, though. My brother wasn't there (his girlfriend was supposed to be spending the last two weeks of December in Ghana helping at an orphanage, but last-minute she wasn't able to go and was devastated, so he went to be with her) and I'd thought that that would feel lonely and much less energy and etc. (especially since my grandma is so declining) but it was actually fine. (Not that I'm glad to be without him, but you know what I mean).
Christmas Eve we had a quiet evening, including decorating a short plastic tree mostly with the ornaments my mom has made (she makes my dad an ornament each year), which led to assorted reminiscing.
Christmas Day we opened presents one-at-a-time, which really helped my grandma feel connected to what was going on.
I'd forgotten about the Sweeny tradition of hints on gifts, but I loved the hints my dad wrote for all my mom's gifts.
That was probably my favorite part. My mom had asked me to put together a list of stuff I wanted so that my grandma could get me stuff, and so I didn't not want any of the stuff I got, but I really do have more than enough stuff, so the highlight was obviously all the homemade cookies and candies. In writing that up now, I find myself remembering how when I lived at home my mom's constant baking in November and December was just a part of the natural rhythms of life, and how I'd really rather more quality time with people I love than material "stuff." (I realized at one point that this is probably the first Christmas in ever that I didn't get any books -- which is fine. Edit: I lie -- Scott gave me the Maimonides book, which, heart. /edit) (Which also reminds me that I should make the charitable donations I've been meaning to make this season.)
A couple family friends came over shortly after we'd finished opening presents, and so we all had dinner together. Silver lining of my brother not being here means we got to have vegetarian dinner :) Spanikopita (appetizer size), mushroom ravioli (baked), green beans with almonds, crescent rolls, and salad.