This time of year always stirs memories of Christmas past. It is an interesting mix of remembrances of days long passed as well as the joy that fills my life today. As I age, I realize how my idea of what makes Christmas special has changed.
When I was a child it was all about the season ~ the family picking out the Christmas tree, the pretty lights, the arrival of Santa, and getting together with an aunt, uncle, and cousins to feast together and exchange gifts. Details were left up to my parents so my job was to simply enjoy the day. The Christmas season was so special then!
After my siblings and I began to have children the traditions of our childhood began to fade. Now it was all about decorating the inside and the outside of our own homes, fulfilling the role of Santa for our children, preparing a Christmas side dish to bring to our parents house, and spending the day together. When I close my eyes I can smell the familiar scents of my parents home, hear the echoes of conversation sprinkled with good-natured laughter, and see the smiles on the faces amid the rustling of paper as we opened the gifts. The Christmas season was so special then!
Much in my life has changed since those days ~ my parents are deceased, my children grown, my siblings and I are now the grandparents. Our children are making their own holiday traditions with their young families. I still take much joy in decorating my home, picking out the tree, and inviting guests to share a holiday meal.
As I age, I realize it is no longer about buying the perfect gifts, having the perfect tree, or even making sure everyone is together on Christmas Eve and or Christmas Day. Our blended family consists of children and grandchildren who live out-of-state, children who have yearly traditions with in-laws, and some who are single whose commitments change from year to year. The time we do spend together is precious and much appreciated.
Christmas has become special in a different way. We enjoy making our own new traditions. We have become open to changes and are flexible in accommodating which children we can see and when during the Christmas season. We have been able to accept and develop an appreciation for these changes and enjoy the slower, less hectic pace. We have the opportunity to reach out to others and reconnect with relatives and friends we don’t often see. Although our traditions have changed, Christmas is STILL very special.