I’m feeling a little discombobulated today. It’s the day after Christmas and I should be getting ready for our family Christmas party. It has been our tradition, for the last twenty years or so, to get together as a family on December 26.
A Tradition Begins
It started years ago, when my brother and his first wife divorced. My brother didn’t get his young son until Christmas afternoon so instead of rushing things, my parents decided to wait until the next day to celebrate. When my brother moved to the Florida panhandle, it gave him time to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home before driving to our parents’ home. It really became helpful when he married again and welcomed two daughters. They could have their family Christmas together before traveling south to be with extended family.
It didn’t really affect our Christmas that much. Actually, it was kind of nice because it stretched the holiday a little further.
I enjoyed my children’s college years because they would be home for two or three weeks over Christmas and New Year’s. Alas, they got older and got jobs so, for the past few years, my husband and I made runs to the airport on Christmas Day or the day after to pick them up. A couple of days later, we would take them back to the airport to send them on their way.
But, between the empty nest, the pandemic, and life in general, traditions change. It’s December 26 and our Christmas celebration is over. I have nothing to prepare for today and it feels rather strange.
Several months ago, when we thought the pandemic would be almost over, my brother suggested having our extended family Christmas the weekend before Christmas. He and his family enjoy snow-skiing and since his two high-school aged daughters didn’t have to be back at school until January 8, they would like to go on a ski trip. They could leave right after Christmas. Our parents were ok with that. It didn’t really matter when we got together, just that we got together. My two kids were on board. They are both married and live out of state, so, it meant they would not have to rush home for our Christmas after celebrating with their in-laws. Thrown into the mix was my son and daughter-in-law’s first anniversary, on December 28.
So, we improvised and had a lovely family gathering (masked and socially distanced) on the Saturday before Christmas. My daughter and I decorated my parents’ garage with props from past family Christmas photos. Instead of taking a big family picture, we made a collage of individual family pictures, each group wearing a 2020 themed Christmas t-shirt with a matching mask. It was definitely a different celebration but it was good to be together.
Everyone left by December 22. My kids drove down and back, not ready to fly just yet. My brother didn’t get to go on a ski trip. His girls have to return to school five days earlier and his youngest daughter has soccer practice. It’s awfully quiet around here.
My husband and I had Chinese food on Christmas Eve with my parents and my cousin who lost his mom last December. We had our traditional Christmas morning breakfast with them as well.
Adapting to Change
I’m still trying to figure out what to do today. Maybe some cleaning or I might put photos in the cute Christmas album I made earlier. I won’t be taking my tree down, not just yet. I won’t do that until Epiphany Day on January 6. You’ve got to keep some traditions, right?
It has been a different Christmas. I have learned in this very unusual year, and as an empty nester, that traditions change and evolve and that’s ok. I’ve learned that its best to make plans and hold onto them loosely.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow let’s go into this city, and spend a year there, trade, and make a profit.” Whereas you don’t know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? For you are a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. For you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will both live, and do this or that.”James 4:13-15 World English Bible
As I think to the coming new year, I have no idea what to expect. I have no plans other than doing each day what I feel the Lord leading me to do. I hope and pray that the new year will bring an end to the pandemic and that we will feel comfortable traveling and being with friends and family again. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Did you have to alter your Christmas traditions this year? What did you do differently? Was it due to the pandemic or other reasons. I would love to hear.