No More Christmases at Home
When we got married I looked forward to starting new traditions and continuing many from my childhood. Certain cookies, a particular style of stockings, and always a freshly cut tree were automatic transfers from my single life to my married life. When our kids were little we began a tradition of focusing on the giving of each gift. Each person opened one gift at a time while everyone else watched. It made Christmas Day last till noon or after. Over the years we added Dad’s special Christmas Eve dinner that he and the girls prepare. Recently the girls have started wearing Santa hats while they cook, a new twist.
But I did not anticipate that someday Christmas would not happen at my house anymore. I don’t remember when it happened, but a couple of years ago I realized we’d had our last family Christmas at our house. During our youngest child, Laura’s, junior and senior years of college we realized that none of her older siblings could come home for Christmas, She demanded a change of venue. She said it would be terribly boring to spend the day with just her “parental units,” as she called us. So we made plans to go to the home of one of our married sons or daughters for the holidays. And that has become our new Christmas tradition.
It seems rather odd to say we’ll never be home for Christmas again. And honestly it’s not as sad as it sounds, just strange that I find myself in this new unfamiliar place. Spending Christmas with my married kids is great. We love being around the grandkids, helping them with the meals and their traditions. We’ve even learned to do virtual Christmas via Skype. Three years ago we’d all made flight arrangements to spend Christmas with our son and daughter-in-law in Colorado, but the day before we were to leave they got a huge snowstorm with nearly two feet of snow. Holiday travelers were stranded in Denver for days. So we all canceled and Dennis and Laura and I drove to our daughter’s who lives an hour and a half away and we had three laptops all connected with kids stuck in Seattle, kids stuck in Denver, and the rest of us in Russellville, Arkansas. We watched presents being opened off and on for half the day. It helped ease the loss of not being together.
This year we are going to Washington, D.C., for Christmas. Our youngest lives there now. Her roomies will all be gone so we’ll bunk at her place. Jake and Rebecca will join us, too. They are still suffering the loss of Molly and want to be with family. We’ll have a sweet, new, and different experience this year in the nation’s capital.
So, I’ve learned that starting new traditions is not just for the newlyweds. We in the empty nest season get to start over, too, in lots of ways: some expected and some unexpected. And gratefully, God is with me in my changing traditions.