I love hearing from parents who are further along the parenting path. This month, Carol Roper reflects on how Christmas has changed through the years. If you're one who likes the holidays to stay the same, these may be just the words you need to hear/read. Make sure to learn more about Carol and connect with her at the end of the post!
I remember so many of my kids’ firsts. Their first birthdays, haircuts and sleepovers. First days of school, first friends and first dates. One of the most anticipated occasions, however, was their first Christmas.
My husband and I were married eight years before our oldest was born, so I was ready to celebrate the wonder and excitement of the season in a new way. I have to admit, though, it was a bit of a letdown. Six-month-olds don’t really get into Christmas. They’d rather chew on wrapping paper than open all those new toys.
As for my second-born, we were a little more practical and got him an exersaucer for his big gift. But when we set him in it, he promptly threw up and spiked a high fever. That wasn’t the dream Christmas I’d envisioned either.
But since then we’ve had many great Christmas holidays—it’s still my favorite season.
I’ve always loved to play Christmas music during the evenings in December. I remember when my daughter, Elise, was only two and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” came on the radio. I’d crank up the music and we’d laugh and dance wildly across our little den. I can still see those big curls bouncing around her little cherub face. To this day, when we hear that song, we’ll look at each other and grin.
There were the annual Christmas card pictures I had to cajole my son, Jacob, into posing for. The magic reindeer dust we’d sprinkle on the lawn on Christmas Eve to make sure Santa would find us. And the holiday baking that always made such a mess but brought lots of smiles.
As they got older I realized I needed to make Christmas more Christ-centered so I began a new tradition that included three gifts for each family member to represent the gifts of the Magi: gold, frankincense and myrrh. This new tradition brought more depth to our Christmas morning, reminding us of the reason we celebrate.
This year will be our newest and most difficult first as a family: the first Christmas since not just one, but both of our children, have moved out—less than six months apart.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… –Ecclesiastes 3:1
My son married a wonderful young woman last July and my daughter built her own house. My husband and I are suddenly empty-nesters. Grappling with what that means for us is something I really hadn’t spent much time pondering. In the back of my mind I knew it was coming but didn’t think it would arrive so quickly.
I’m not sure what to expect this year. Elise says she’ll spend Christmas Eve night in her old room, so she’ll be here Christmas morning. But Jacob and his bride will be visiting her family, so we’ll see them later in the day. Marriage means sharing our children with their spouse’s family.
No. Christmas morning won’t be the same.
But I’m determined to be intentional about adding new traditions to our growing family—ones that will stir the hearts of my children and, hopefully someday, grandchildren. My goal is to always have our home be a place of respite, love and joy. A place where Christ and family are cherished and celebrated. I’ll just have to be a little more creative in implementing these traditions, remembering they’ll look a little different from here on out. But different doesn’t have to mean bad. After all, we’ve gained another daughter.
Don’t be afraid to change.
You may lose something good but you may gain something better.
How have you prepared yourself for the holiday season after your kids leave home? Are there any new traditions you’ve added that your kids (or you and your husband) appreciate? I’d love to hear your ideas!
Carol Roper is a designer/draftsman and writer who freelances from her home in South Carolina. Her articles have appeared in Guideposts Magazine, Guideposts.org, American Daily Herald and ChristianDevotions.us. She and her husband, John, live on a farm where they enjoy hosting friends and family around bonfires and watching sunsets from their front porch. Visit her at www.carolroper.org, where she encourages women to build strong, godly homes one story at a time.