We’re big on traditions in our family and, of course, the holidays come with many traditional activities nurtured over the years, but this year, as I experience traditions, I’m also experiencing transitions.
We’re officially empty-nesters in the sense that our youngest has turned 18 and is off to college and we’re okay with that. I’m reveling in watching our children make their way in the adult world, finding their places, marrying, starting families. Even though they are all developing their own lives, we do see each other regularly and it’s fun. However, as the holidays approached, I wondered whether we’d all be spending Christmas together or if this would be the year some go their own way. The answer? We are spending Christmas together and I’m thrilled, but I know it won’t be forever. I jokingly said, “When y’all decide to have Christmas in your own homes with your own families, somebody please invite Dad and me to join you so we’re not alone!”
So, thankfully, we’re not experiencing the “big” transition this year, but smaller transitions keep popping up reminding me of the changes to come. A month ago, while we were all gathered together, our oldest daughter brought up the idea of not exchanging Christmas gifts amongst the kids. They’d already transitioned to drawing names a few years ago, now the suggestion was made to not exchange gifts at all. I liked the idea that the real basis of gathering for Christmas is to spend time together, but the idea of no gift exchange between the kids nagged at me a little. Eventually I accepted the idea as I realized they’re embracing the love of the season, not the stuff of the season (though I don’t think they’re sticking to the edict too strictly). Transition – sort of.
Last week I walked into the kitchen where my daughter is living and there, on the counter, was the big white plastic bowl with the blue lid. This bowl is really big and, over the years, has been used for only two purposes: marinating Korean bulgogi and storing the Chex Mix my husband traditionally makes during the holiday season. My husband was not in town and the house didn’t smell of marinating bulgogi. “Did you….?” I asked my daughter as I lifted the lid. Yes, she did. There was a bowlful of Chex Mix. My husband won’t be making Chex Mix this year; it’s already made. Transition.
Earlier this week I began wrapping Christmas gifts. I’m not into fancy packages, but I do like to use a little ribbon as décor. The problem with using ribbon is getting it tied tightly around the package. Having had children in my home for the last 35 years, there have always been little fingers available to hold the first tie of the ribbon in place while I tie the second, anchoring, tie. As I began wrapping gifts this year I realized I’d have to hold the first tie myself because there are no children watching and waiting to offer a tiny finger. Transition.
Small transitions, for sure, but reminders of the bigger transitions to come. We’ll weather them as they come, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to them.