Our growing, young family is spread across three states, which makes gathering on Christmas day impossible. We have freed our adult children of the pressure to celebrate Christmas as in the past. It was a wise decision, even though we miss watching our grandchildren and their parents enjoy the day.

We have settled on the gift exchange dilemma, however, and on what to give. Since it is celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, and He received three gifts from the wise men, each grandchild would only get three gifts. We provide them with a three-by-five card to write down two gift suggestions: one gift for what they want and what they need. The third gift idea is what we will give to them. It is workable. We adults jot down our gift ideas on a card, place it in a basket, and randomly pull a name. This has worked quite well over the years and relieves the burden of having to purchase a gift for the other members of our ever-expanding family, now totaling 17!

We have not lost the idea of giving just on our family. We express the joy of giving by participating  in a community event to share Christmas joy with a local child or family in need. It is amazing to watch joy on the faces of these deserving families. This is Christmas for us!

My husband and I will awake on Christmas day, just as we did almost forty years ago … just the two of us! All of our married children, their spouses, and their children will be hundreds of miles away, waking up with new traditions. We will settle for the obligatory early morning telephone calls to everyone as they open gifts, but we are grateful for the joy of family.

However, we are beginning a Christmas day tradition: a brunch just for empty-nesters!

I am excited that many of our special friends will gather to fellowship over a diet-free brunch menu, to exchange gifts, and to play several rounds of some games!

Certainly we will reminisce about our children and those fun grandchildren stories. I imagine even bringing photos will be allowed.

We will conclude our time together in sweet prayer of thanksgiving for the wonderful gift of life that only comes through a personal relationship with the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ!