Are you feeling Festive yet? When we were young we used to spend Christmas with my Grandparents in Lincolnshire at their house in the country. Perched on a hill, it looked down over the countryside to the fields and small churches below. My Grandparents always had a splendid tree, and we had wonderful traditional Christmases there. Then things changed, and we moved countries, and I never really felt IT the same way again. I strive to feel festive and "in the spirit", yet often feel a bit melancholy at Christmas. When my kids were young, that was minimized by their excitement and my full out efforts at a home made Christmas. Baking for weeks, decorating the house, heading out to cut down trees, tearing through the shops to find the perfect gifts, cooking and entertaining and gorgeous table settings. We did it all. I've had wonderful Christmases and Christmases filled with sadness and troubles. It's the Yin and Yang of life. Filled with ups and downs, joys and sadness, Christmas is never guaranteed to be the same twice.
Last year was my first year away from my extended family and not hosting dinner. It ended a year of extravagance and celebration. We traveled to wonderful places, our son was married in the Bahamas, followed by an amazing party in Montreal. We bought a Florida house and generally everyone was well and enjoying life.
Fast forward to this year and the air has deflated somewhat from the balloon. Despite the joyous news that we are expecting our first Grandchild, there has been much stress and sadness surrounding us and those we love. My Mother in Law had a major health crisis and landed in a nursing home, Father in Law left to cope with the loneliness and life altering experience of living alone after 60 years of marriage. My Sweet Mama was very ill and had major surgery, something traumatic for someone as fragile as she is, my daughter in law lost her beloved Grandpa, we lost our friend Ed to Asbestos related cancer, our good neighbor is gravely ill. I discovered how very much I love my Daughter in Law as she goes through a very serious illness with her own mother. I feel her pain and her worry, and in turn I worry about her and her baby and I wish she could feel the pure joy of the pregnancy without the sadness and worry she has had this year. My nephew is reeling from the death of his friend to suicide, and my thoughts and concerns extend to him this year too. Our year has been punctuated with happy times and good things also, but the weight of the worries has shadowed them.
I think I have had my last Christmas with the entire family here in my house. My son will start his traditions next year of waking up in his own home with his wife and baby on Christmas morning, and my daughter will also find new ways to celebrate. But I am ready for change. I know each year will bring something new and I will embrace that. My kids will start their own traditions and ours will change and expand and grow as our family does.
This year my son really needs to be with his wife, and she needs to be with her mother in New Jersey along with her grandmother and sisters. Girl Child can't imagine Christmas without her brother, and I feel a need to be near my kids, and my brother and his boys who live in New Jersey. Despite being torn about not having Christmas with my sister and mother, we are heading to NJ to be with my brother's family and daughter-in-laws family. I want my son and his wife to give everything they have to her family, because they need that this year. I want to be able to hug her mother and share a glass of wine with my DIL, her mother, sisters and her Grandmother. I want to hug my nephew tight and let him know he has a great big support network to love him.
So we are drifting this year. And none of us are involved in the usual planning. We've barely decorated, and given no thoughts to gifts. Because the only thing we really want this year is to be together. It's the people that are priority, and family supporting those that need it. And when the love replaces the "stuff" of Christmas, you know it's going to be good and emotional and fulfilling and just what we all need this year.