Monday, December 12, 2011

Won't Be Home for Christmas

This is the seventh in a series of posts written by my brother, Tom.  His son, Mark, and Mark's wife, Carol, are indirectly responsible for the "Turner Schedule"  becoming the new "rule" as our children start their own families.

Christmas at the Jones household is straight out of the Hallmark Hall of Fame rule book.  This is the way it has been since I was a child, and the traditions have carried forward to my children, now grown.  Regardless of circumstances, heroic efforts must be made to arrive smiling with grandchildren and presents at the appointed time. 

Mark, Savannah and Carol (Turner) Jones
Mark is the son of the author, my brother, Tom
You can imagine my dismay when one year I was told that two of our three children were going to go on the “Turner schedule”.  The “Turner schedule”, what’s that? I protested.  “Its simple Dad” explained my son.  “It is named after my wife’s family, and they alternate every other Thanksgiving and Christmas with their in-laws.  All the kids and in-laws maintain the same schedule, that way we don’t have to spend half the day on the road and we can relax and enjoy each others' company for the day.”  My daughter, that year having spent hours of delay in a massive snow storm trying to arrive home for Christmas, loved the idea and immediately signed up for the same plan with her husband’s family.  (Note: the grandchildren would be on the same schedule as their parents!)

I knew that the rules had changed and that Christmas, my favorite time of year, was going to be very quiet every other year.  My wife assured me that things would be OK, and besides we could celebrate Christmas as a family on a convenient weekend anytime in December or even January.  I recognize right from wrong…and this was wrong!

That following Christmas, our family scheduled an early December weekend for our own celebration and to my obstinate surprise the day was exceptional.  All of the traditions were observed yet there was a surprising lack of hurry and hustle to the day.  No one had to rush off to another commitment, no re-arranging the day to watch a particular football game, nothing; just conversation, food, family and enjoying the grandchildren as they played with their toys. 

Well I have successfully survived several years of the “Turner schedule” and recently learned that over 100 connected family members have adopted the same schedule.  I have to admit that I now prefer the off years.

I’ve also been reminded that another family was not home for Christmas but stranded in a stable nearly 2000 years ago.  In those days Ceasar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazarath in Galilee, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

This Christmas, we will celebrate with you the birth of the Savior.  Regardless of what day or where you are, we can all focus on the things that are eternally important.
Wood Block Credit:


  1. What is it about this post that made me suddenly emotional? Maybe it was the final few paragraphs.

    The Turner schedule is a great idea really. My daughter was so stressed and overworked one year that she had a very scary blackout while driving the day before Christmas and ended up in the hospital. We had to postpone our get together until New Years that year. When you have small children and have to be at both grandparent's homes almost 3 hours apart, it makes for trying times. I wonder if my family might be up for some change from the traditional!

  2. Lisa,
    I would recommend it. I'm lucky because my daughter's inlaws live in Venezuela so we get them for all of the holidays. However, for the rest of my ever-expanding family, all of the cousins know they are going to be together on one of the two holidays each year. This year everyone came for Thanksgiving, so Christmas will be smaller. I have one nephew who just had twin girls and lives in Colorado. He and his wife have decided not to go anywhere this year, and who can blame them? It would involve flying with three young children. In their case, their Cincinnati family is going to them.

  3. Our clan has been known to have our celebrations on different days. This year Thanksgiving was on November 13th, and we left town 4 days later for the winter. There have been years that our twin grands have been in Germany for the holidays, when they were small they would be gone for well over a month. It worked out fine, lots of memories for the twins, of both sets of grand parents. I have come to cherish my family times and my Tana holidays. Relaxed, a bit of Skype, and not driving through 10 inches of blizzard blowing snow.

  4. Wonderful post! I'd probably have been hesitant at first too, but you never know how things will work out until you try! I'm glad everyone is enjoying the schedule!

    I must say a gorgeous family too!

  5. Kathy, I just finished reading all seven (the first seven) of your brother's posts. They are delightful and poignant and simply wonderful. Thanks for inviting him to share.

  6. Nancy,
    Thanks so much for the comment. I know my brother will appreciate it. You had to be really busy to read seven of these at one time. There will be eleven altogether.


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