Re-creating Christmas at 54

This Christmas came and went and all I can really say is, “Good riddens!” Bah, humbug…and all that. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE giving gifts. It’s my love language and I’d rather give a gift than get one most of the time. I love the spirit of goodwill and I love decorating the house and the yard, but really and truly, I am done with Christmas as I have always known it.

About a decade ago we moved away from our Nebraska home out to Logan, Utah. It was a seismic shift in all of our holiday celebrations. Stephen was in college at UNL and it became our priority to simply get him home to be with us. We enjoyed our time together and kept the traditions that were there for the four of us. I fixed cream of broccoli soup, served the cheeseball and crackers and we poured our nonalcoholic bubbly.  Following that we opened our gifts one at a time after the stockings were emptied out. Kirby had his own stocking and faithfully searched for his new bone. Cassie got her new catnip toy and we had a great time together. We felt the loss of the extra Christmases we’d known in Nebraska with our own siblings but adjusted well, sending and receiving packages and making holiday phone calls.

In 2010 we made another big leap and moved to Cambridge, MN. Having just finished my Special Ed student teaching and arriving in Cambridge just after Halloween, we kept our own tradition and celebrated with Stephen flying in, this time with his fiancé Theresa.  All of our traditions fell into place and we had a great time. Stephen and Terri even got to get up on the roof and help Dean scoop the snow off. We’d had around 15″ by then. The four years following that Christmas have taken us through a slow evolution to where we are now.

2011-Christmas almost didn’t even happen. Hannah had moved back to Utah and Stephen and Theresa couldn’t come home.  I’d been in and out of the hospital since October 20th and was finally discharged on December 20th. Our gifts were money and our decorations minimal. We lit an old ceramic tree that was once my Grandma’s and pretty much just made it through that year.

2012-Dean and I celebrated with Hannah and her boyfriend one evening and flew to Austin over New Year’s  where we drove down to San Antonio and celebrated with Theresa’s parents.

2013-Dean and I celebrated with Hannah and her boyfriend one evening and then made a trip to Austin in the New Year with Dean’s parents along.

2014- Dean, Hannah and I drove down to Austin and for the first time in three years all five of us were together once again. As we had to go after January 1, the only tradition we participated in was opening gifts.

So…it appears that the Christmas season where we “go home for the holidays” or where our kids “come home for the holidays” hasn’t made sense to us for some time.  When we left Cambridge in July and moved into this house in Andover, I just did what one normally does and got ready for Christmas. I put up a tree, decorated the house, we put lights outside and really enjoyed the way it looked. EXCEPT…it made no sense at all.

Hannah was off work wanted to be with her boyfriend and his children so rather than ask her to stay with us, we chose to just make Christmas on another evening. We exchanged gifts and ate chili and sweet rolls together. It was a nice time but pretty quick.  Dean and I flew down to Austin for a 3 day weekend and had a really good time participating in Theresa’s Aunt and Uncle’s annual cookie bake. For our Christmas with Stephen and Theresa, we chatted a bit about a gift and Theresa and I hopped in the car and headed to IKEA to purchase it.  We had a great time with the two of them and their friends Steve and Brandon playing cards. It was great.

The deal is that we are no longer a TRADITIONAL family. In fact as Stephen and I were talking he told me that he just hates tradition. I guess thats good because there is no longer anything traditional for our Christmas celebrations…and I’m really good with that for many reasons.

Primarily this is a good thing because trying to maintain the cultural expectations of Christmas in the midst of four lives that have endured multiple seismic shifts over the last decade is utterly impossible. Dean and I have chosen to prioritize time with each of our children and how we do that has to be very flexible each and every year.  The world they each live in, the realities that they each live with in their own world combined with those of ours, simply make holding onto to what was a lesson in futility.

Well, I can guarantee that on December 24 and 25th Dean and I will be doing something together, just the two of us and establishing some kind of tradition with that. It will very likely involve going away on our own. A beach sounds like a good idea. Our decorating is going to shrink enormously. I’m even pretty sure I won’t put up a tree from here on out and I’m feeling really, really good about that.

My New Year’s Resolution is to simply continue to embrace the life that is mine no matter how counter to family tradition that it is.

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