Friday, June 01, 2007
Christmas Traditions for the Empty Nest...
Sometimes it can be really traumatic when all of the kids leave home and things are just not the same as they used to be at holiday time. It's unrealistic to expect them to stay the same, however. Even if your married children live in the same town as you do, they should be encouraged to begin their own special traditions as a new family. If they live in another state or even another country, they should not be pressured to "come home for Christmas". Maybe they want to make that a part of their own holiday tradition -- and hooray if they do! -- but we shouldn't pressure them to do so.
I have found that beginning some new traditions of our own (and tweaking some older ones) as empty-nesters has been really helpful in keeping the blues away at holiday time. Here are a few ideas:
* On the day of the first significant snowfall in our area (usually sometime in November) I bake the first Christmas cookies of the season to freeze.
* I decorate to my heart's content! Lots easier without little kids underfoot.
* I often plan special pre-Christmas gifts for my married kids and their families. Christmas books, foods, decorations and crafts to enjoy throughout the coming season.
* We always do some of our Christmas shopping at a very special group of shops (in an old mill) where we traditionally visited when the kids were younger. We like to go in the evening when the street lamps are lit, carols are playing, and a light snow is falling.
* I pack Christmas boxes to send to those family and friends who are far away. It is so much fun to plan what goodies to include. I just want the box to say "Merry Christmas!" when they open it.
* My husband and I fill Christmas stockings for each other. This is lots of fun and something special to look forward to on Christmas morning.
* We enjoy our traditional Christmas Eve Soup whether we have company or not.
* I make a special breakfast on Christmas morning -- usually including an egg bake of some sort (prepared the night before and baked fresh that morning) and a coffeecake or muffins I've baked ahead.
We plan to have "Christmas" together with all of our kids and grandkids whenever we can all be together, no matter what time of year it happens to be. The times all together are so rare we want to savor them fully.
Well, those are just a few thoughts. But above all, let's not forget that "leaving and cleaving" is biblical. Once our married kids leave home, they are a new family and we need to set them free to function as such in every way.