Meet guest blogger and author Dr. Vicki Caruana. Today she is sharing her her heart about what happens to Christmas traditions when the kids are grown and gone.
What Will Happen to Christmas?
Not living in close proximity to my children is an exercise in contentment. Yes, I realize we’re the ones who chose to move 2000 miles away. Yes, I realize that most American families live at a distance from one another. No, that knowledge is not enough to stop me from cooking for six every Sunday even though we no longer have Sunday family dinners.
Compensation for the distance comes in regular phone calls from my eldest son about what he’s cooking for dinner (he’s the cook in the family) and regular recipe exchanges. “Try this Mom,” he’ll suggest or “I’m making fish tacos tonight, why don’t you make them too?”
Last year we tried to have Christmas dinner together – via SKYPE. But with the two hour time difference, it really wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped it would be. I settled for seeing their shining faces by the light of their Christmas trees on a 12-inch laptop screen. Christmas mornings were about cinnamon rolls and egg nog before opening gifts. It isn’t the same for just the two of us.
I thought Chip and I had introduced and maintained some pretty fabulous traditions with our kids as they grew up; many of which define the holiday season. Is it still a tradition if you are not together? I’m trying to decide whether my struggle is with letting go of those things behind or holding onto the past with white knuckles. Is there a balance here? A way to honor our shared history and allow for the future to still be a mystery?
Actually I think it is about being okay with mystery.
Traditions offer us something to hold onto; something to depend on. Traditions help us feel rooted. That is the biggest reason I wanted traditions for our family – to be rooted.
What I have learned is that not only do we need to give our kids roots, we need to give them wings. After all, I never wanted my kids to feel “stuck” in a meaningless tradition. I want them to choose for themselves, and maybe they’ll choose to have Chinese food on Christmas Eve like we always did. And maybe they won’t. I’m learning to be okay either way.
Our children are coming to spend Christmas with us this year. For the first time in a year and a half my cooking portions will be appropriate! However, I will have to consider the leftovers factor (usually that means everything times two). The children fly in on Christmas Eve. As my son and I went over the airport details, he reminded me, “We will be having Chinese food though, right? After all, it is Christmas Eve.”
He has no idea how much that means to me.
As you begin to let go of your desperate hold on some of your traditions, can you learn to be content even if they don’t come home for Christmas?
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
Philippians 4:11 (NIV)
Dr. Vicki Caruana is the author of 20 books and the blog Apples & Chalkdust—named after her bestselling book that has touched the lives of a million educators around the world. Caruana is one of four parenting experts on Starting Points, Focus on the Family’s parenting DVD series. Formerly a public school teacher and a homeschooling mom, Vicki is now an assistant professor of education at Mount Saint Mary College in New York. She lives with her station wagon loving husband, Chip, in Newburgh, New York and has two grown sons in Colorado Springs.