Why Flexibility Is Important In The Empty Nest – Part Two

I knew that Christmas this year was going to be different. I knew it from the earliest days of the new year. What I didn’t know was just how different it was going to be.

When Plans Change

Let’s go back a couple of years. I turned sixty in December of 2020. Being one of the milestone birthdays, I wanted to celebrate big. My husband and I discussed it and decided on a weekend at nearby Walt Disney World with our adult children and their spouses. In February of 2020, we sent out a save the date invitation for the first weekend in December. Did you catch that date?

We made all the plans then COVID happened and, as we all know, 2020 was a wash. We had to cancel.

Near the end of 2021 we revisited those plans but we were too late for a December weekend plus things were still a little uncertain at the magic kingdom. With the encouragement of our children, we decided to rebook the trip for my birthday weekend in December of 2022.

On January 26, I had a FaceTime call from my son and daughter-in-law who were in Lisbon, Portugal for the month. My son informed me that we would need one more ticket for our Walt Disney World vacation in December.  Wait, What?!

That’s how I found out I was going to become a grandmother before the end of the year! We would have a brand-new family member by my birthday and Christmas.

When A Loss Brings Change

A few months later, we had another indication that Christmas of 2022 would indeed be very different.

The day before Mother’s Day, both of my parents were diagnosed with COVID. It was quite a shock, to say the least. I had been at their house that morning discussing plans for our Mother’s Day lunch the next day — my mom had the sniffles and we agreed that if she didn’t feel better, my husband and I would go to lunch with my dad. A few hours later, my mom called to tell me that she was at the emergency room with my dad and that they had both tested positive for COVID. Another “wait, what”?!

While my mom had a week of feeling yucky, my dad’s initial overnight observation turned into a three-week hospital stay. When it was evident that his health was not improving, we brought him home under hospice care. There was a flurry of activity as everyone in the family came home to see him one more time then, a few days later, just before midnight on June 12, he passed.

When A Plan Comes Together

The year progressed and baby Leo’s September due date got closer and closer. I became skeptical about the weekend at Disney World. Before I purchased our tickets to the park and the popular Candlelight Processional, I asked the soon-to-be parents if they were sure they wanted to go ahead with the plan and they assured me that they did. 

Shortly after this we learned that our Christmas plans would change.

Leo entered our world on September 30, about eight weeks before our Disney weekend. The new parents decided it would be better to drive from Nashville to Orlando rather than fly with such a young infant. They would break up their travel days so it would be two days down and two days back in addition to the weekend at the park. Understandably, they only wanted to make that trip once in December.

After some phone calls, the plan was set. The day after our Disney weekend, my family would have Christmas with my mother. Then, my brother and his family would come down the day after Christmas to celebrate with me, my husband and Mom.

The weekend was a blast. Baby Leo was a little trooper. We stayed at a Disney World resort so we could walk to the parks and come and go as needed; and it wasn’t only Leo or the new parents who needed a break from time to time.

We enjoyed our time together. The Christmas decorations at EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios were beautiful. We were even slightly famous for a day in our matching seven dwarf t-shirts. Initially, Leo was going to be Sleepy but he doesn’t like to sleep so we dubbed him Grumpy and let his mama be Sleepy. A highlight of the weekend was hearing the Christmas story read by Isabella Rosolini along with accompanying Christmas carols in the Candlelight Processional. If you’ve never seen it, you should. It’s spectacular.

The birthday weekend ended all too quickly and we all drove the hour back home and switched into Christmas mode. After some preparations, we went to my mother’s house for our family Christmas. 

The Year Of A Different Christmas

My mother was thrilled to meet her first great-grandson — we have the photos and video to prove it. My nephew drove over from Orlando and joined us for our traditional, non-traditional dinner of Cuban sandwiches, Spanish bean soup, black beans and rice, salad and flan. We opened presents and took one half of our famous Edwards Family Christmas photo. We’ll take the other half on the twenty-sixth when my brother’s family arrives.

So, Christmas with my immediate family is basically over. There are no more presents to buy or wrap. My husband and I are making a quick trip to Nashville to see baby Leo, some city Christmas lights, go to a Christmas concert and maybe even experience some Christmas snow. When we return, we’ll have a quiet celebration with my mom on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day then a more lively one the day after, when my brother’s family arrives.

Like Thanksgiving last month, we have had to be flexible in our empty nest Christmas. This Christmas is proving to be the most different yet.

  • It’s our first Christmas as grandparents.
  • It’s our first Christmas without my dad.
  • It’s the earliest we’ve ever celebrated Christmas.
  • It’s the most drawn out Christmas (the 5th – the 26th).
  • It’s the first Christmas my kids haven’t celebrated with my brother’s family. 

When Flexibility Brings Contentment

I know this was a long post and if you are still reading, a huge thank you. The older our children get and the more others are added into the mix, the more complicated keeping up with our traditions become. When you have spouses and babies and adult children living in different towns and kids in college, you simply have to be flexible with your traditions, especially around the holidays. 

If you’re living in the empty nest, how have your Christmas traditions changed? I’d love to hear.


2 thoughts on “Why Flexibility Is Important In The Empty Nest – Part Two

  1. I love this post, Kim! What a year you have had. We will all miss your sweet dad, but we are also celebrating Leo’s entrance in to this world! I’m so happyous for you💙💙. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas will be unconventional this year for our family too…but we celebrate being together and the amazing birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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