Are you in the middle of the empty nest years and wondering how to make Christmas special for your empty nest home?
When Jim and I married in 1980, we pulled together our Christmas traditions from our homes and meshed them together and came up with our own. Before we had children, Christmas was easy; we would go to our parents homes and celebrate with family and join in with whoever invited us that year. Once our children came, we found it important to be home and build our own style of Christmas morning and all the festivities before that special day.
Many years went by with lot’s of fun Christmas memories with our family and our extended family and friends. I have a photo album and a box of “want to be photo album” pictures to look back on. We also have videos of some family Christmases that I’m anxious to go through. I’m sure I will have to have a box of tissues as I watch them, though.
Now that our two children are grown and have homes of their own, it is back to just my husband and I. I have to make the decision of how much I want to decorate, when before we would decorate for the kids to make it as festive and fun as possible. Now, as I decorate, it’s just for us and those that visit our home during the holiday time. It’s still just as fun, but oh, so different.
This year, I decorated a tree with ornaments from the kids younger years. I found the first ornament I ever bought when Patti was just a baby. I loved seeing the ornaments of Nathan’s when he was a basketball player and all his ornaments had to do with basketball. Between Patti’s ice skating ornaments and Nathan’s airplane ornaments, I was in tears by the time I finished the tree. I’m sure that those ornaments will ever mean anything special like they are to me, but, I will continue to cherish them and the memories that go with them.
Something important to know when going in to the holiday season with a quiet house is knowing my purpose. My purpose should be to enjoy this time of the year and now make memories for my husband and I and those that are around to enjoy with us. My purpose is to cheer on our children as they now make memories with their families and begin their own traditions. My husband and I have never put pressure on our kids to spend Christmas with us each Christmas or every other Christmas. Although, I do admire those that have it so organized that everyone knows which Christmas and which Thanksgiving to spend with which family. Since our lives were always so busy and unpredictable while our kids were growing up, we didn’t have anything set in stone of when to be where, so we have stuck with that rule now. Life is so busy and things happen that to insist on certain years and times for everyone to be together, just doesn’t work for us. We find out what everyone is doing or have planned and work around our time to be together for holiday time. However it works out, we make the best of it and enjoy it to the fullest.
WHAT I WISH I WOULD HAVE DONE IN THE PAST:
If I could go back and make some changes to the way we celebrated Christmas I would for sure have taken more pictures and put them in albums. I now have pictures in boxes over the past 36 years and the Christmas pictures are mixed in. I did manage to put together an album a few years ago, but so many pictures are missing. *(goal for 2017; organize pictures!)
I would also insist on a family picture each year. Nothing crazy fancy but, maybe sometimes yes, crazy fancy. And the complainers would just have to deal with it. I’m a people pleaser, so if someone complained about having to dress up for a picture, I would say, “Ok, we will skip it then.” If I could go back, I would stand my ground.
Another thing I wish I would have done was to not let holiday drama affect me. You know…the family members that treat you a certain way while you are in their home and you just deal with it because it’s Christmas. If I could go back, I would just let it roll off of my back and never think twice about it. As long as I treat others like I should with kindness, forgiveness and grace, I shouldn’t have a problem when treated badly. There isn’t anything different you can do when someone dislikes and disrespects you if you have those three things in your life. Of course it is difficult to have those three things if you first don’t have love. There really isn’t room in my life for the drama that some folks have to have. Acceptance is all people really want and to be valued as having worth. What better time than Christmas to practice what you preach…..Love one another!
One last thing…I would have focused more on the whole reason we celebrate Christmas; the birth of our Savior. However festive we make our Christmas, we can always bring it back to that little baby who came to save the world! “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son…..” John 3:16
That’s pretty good, only three things I would do different. I’m sure there are more if I put more thought into it. The past is the past and we must give ourselves grace so we can be stronger and continue on in making this season the best season ever!
Merry Christmas and enjoy your holiday you own special way, even if it’s an empty nest!