Traditions are important. They serve as anchors in the dizziness of our lives. But sometimes traditions change, and we need to make room for new ones. Sometimes we need time to assimilate the new, and make adjustments before we can embrace them the way we did the old traditions.
For years, Christmas Day was spent at my parents’ house. We would rise early and open presents here, eat a nice breakfast, and then finish wrapping gifts for the cousins who would also make their way to grandma and grandpa’s cozy little home. We’d have a delicious Christmas dinner, all the while gazing at the enormous pile of gifts stacked under the seven-foot tree. And then chaos would reign as six little girls ripped open their gifts. As the girls grew older, the girlish giggles settled into cries of delight. Last year a male voice joined in as my parents embraced my son-in-law as a long awaited grandson.
This is our first Christmas without Dad. Mom isn’t up to hosting the annual celebration by herself, so my brother and his wife took over. For the first time, the menu included some great takeout pizza and assorted munches contributed by all of us. The cousins gathered around a different tree in a different living room, opening gifts they had chosen for each other rather than things their grandparents and parents selected. We enjoyed games like “Catch Phrase”, “Buzzwords”, and “Bananagrams” and I marveled at the intelligence and wit of my daughters and nieces.
The celebration took place three days ago because our daughter and her husband left to spend the holiday with her in-laws. Mom is spending a few days with my brother, and our other daughter is with her boyfriend’s family. So this Christmas Day is a very quiet “pajama day” for the two of us. I hope to get a lot of writing done. Mark is trying out a new recipe for dinner. It seems odd, waking up on Christmas Day to quietness, no gifts under the tree, and no place to go. But this is nice. I think it’s going to be like this every other year, since the kids intend to alternate holidays with us – one year we get them for Thanksgiving, the next year we get them for Christmas. That’s fair, and I’m happy they’ve worked out a plan. It’ll take a little while to get used to it, and adjustments will probably happen, but as long as we make the effort, we’ll find our way to some great new traditions.
Merry Christmas to all!