|Nathan and Christina opening gifts.|
This year will be different, and to be honest, it has me in a bit of a confused funk. Every year for the past twenty-four years, it has been the same. Even with the kids at college, I knew they would be back for a few days across the Christmas holiday, and our traditional rituals would continue as they always had. Once or twice, they’ve changed due to family squabbles with extended family, but our immediate little group remained steadfast. They were always here, in their rooms or on a couch, but here, nevertheless.
In the past, we would have Christmas Eve dinner at Texas Roadhouse before driving around neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights and playing carols. The next morning, Santa came no matter the age of the kids, and it was time for the opening of presents with what were empty stockings the night before now bursting with tiny goodies and presents crowding under the tree. A few years ago, we added the tradition of opening one present apiece on Christmas Eve and Santa was reduced to just filling the stockings. Now, however, some of those traditions have to go or be rearranged and it’s all the kids’ fault. They grew older and moved out. They got married. They moved away. Now, nothing is the same. See? It’s their fault, the brats. They just didn’t consider the chaos their actions would cause me. It was rude of them to grow up.
Okay, don’t misunderstand me and take all of that the wrong way. I love that they have found people to share their lives with and I’m really glad my power and grocery bill have gone down saving me money to go toward more writing supplies. At least, I am 363 days out of the year. However, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I want to stay the same as they have always been, because I don’t want to think of how to make it all work. It makes my brain ache.
|Zac, Chris, Michael, & Heather waiting for food!|
They won’t be here Christmas morning when everyone wakes up. They also have other family to visit, as well, as they try to juggle three houses as opposed to just the one. They have enough stress building a life for their new families. I don’t want to add to their headaches, even though it’s giving me one. So, some traditions will have to go and new ones need to be created in order for everyone to share the holidays together.
|Chad enjoying a cigar with me.|
It also must remain the same for those still in the home. Just because some have moved out and began to live their own lives doesn’t mean I can stop doing traditions for those still under my roof. They’ve counted on those rituals growing up. So have I, and for now, they have to remain, even if they will be a little quieter and take less time.
Of course, it also means that some traditions can be reborn. When Char was growing up, her family did a great Christmas Eve gathering for family and friends that included Santa and Rudolph as our boys came into the picture. It was a great time to get together and share the holiday while still leaving Christmas morning for those at home. It was a night the boys savored each year. It ended after Char’s father passed away and, although it was revised a few years ago, it just wasn’t the same. We weren’t the same. So, we bowed out and created our own night.
|Dyl, the 8-year old|
Last year, however, we brought it back in a small way and with Chris and Nathan having moved out to begin their own families now, and Heather away at college this year, it will be more like it was in days past. The whole family will gather at the house - after Texas Roadhouse, of course - and the party will continue over snacks and the opening of presents. Music will play, but it won’t be as loud as the laughter that always bounces off the walls. The house will be full of holiday spirit and the love of family. We will celebrate with those who are there while leaving some for Santa to bring in the morning for those who still live here. After all, I’m sure the eight-year old will wake us up with her Christmas excitement. That is, if she beats me awake. I have a tendency to be up before the kids, eager to get the stockings open.
Change has never thrown me off-kilter. I believe it keeps us from growing stagnant and provides growth within a person. You also have to be flexible as children become adults. If you don’t bend with the changes, you’ll break apart a family and miss out on the holiday fun.
I know it’s time for new traditions; it’s time for change, and while I am usually okay with it, I still don’t like it in my holidays, even though I know it needs to happen. It’s probably because the changing of those traditions mean I’m getting older, as are my children, and that is something I never want to admit. Of course, the girls say I’m the biggest kid in the house and as long as I’m there, Santa will be there every year. I just hope this year I receive more than coal.
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For further reading ~ The Stockings Aren't the Same