My youngest child complained recently that we don’t make as big a deal of Christmas traditions and celebrations as we did when her older brother and sister lived at home. Ironically, it was just about the time I had decided to skip decorating the house for Thanksgiving, something I have always done. And since we planned to be away for Christmas, I was also entertaining the notion of a “quieter” version of Christmas lights and decor.
I’ve written before about all the advantages my third child has in terms of my experienced and wiser approach to parenting, but I have not often considered the downside.
I vaguely recall my youngest sister complaining that the focus of our family always seemed to be directed at the lives of her two older sisters. Whether conversations were about college, first jobs or partners, she was always in an earlier stage and her life was never the topic of family discussions.
There are several precipitating occurrences which have inspired my “toned down” approach to our Christmas traditions. If I am honest with myself, weariness, boredom, and a little bit of cynicism are among the darker factors. However, at the same time, I am working hard within this second phase of life (along with my family) to remake myself so that I can shed certain outdated personas and make room for more originality, purpose and depth…..and isn’t that the point of these holidays to begin with? Finally, there is no denying that we have been forced to shift things around, both to adapt to our children’s new lives as they enter adulthood and also because of the aging of the generation ahead of us.
As an example, this was the first time in 20 years that I did not have a household of extended family for Thanksgiving. Instead, I hosted an early celebration with my husband, our three children, friends, significant others and some extended family before all but four of us traveled in different directions.
Yet in what might become a new tradition, I did something I have wanted to do since I was a little girl….my husband, two of my children and I went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
During past years when I flew around the house cooking up multiple meals for multiple days of visitors, I wistfully watched the TV’s rendition. This Thanksgiving there was room for a new (perhaps one-time) holiday tradition and I was mindfully present holding my youngest child’s hand as we watched those magical balloons drift by.
Don’t worry….right after my daughter complained, I pulled out the pilgrim candles and went out and bought my kids and my nieces and nephews chocolate advent calendars. However, with the run up to Christmas, I ask fellow bloggers and readers this question. How do you keep the magic in your Christmas traditions…..while mixing the old with the new?
“Your concern is not so much to have what you love anymore but to love what you have-right now.” Richard Rohr
Gabrielle McCree is an ESL Adult Teacher, Hispanic Resource Center and English Language Institute, Manhattanville College. She is a mother of three, Lori (25), Chris (23), Andrea (18).