Illustration from children’s novel, Christmas Holidays at Merryvale by Alice Hale Burnett. Caption:”There she comes! She’s falling!” cried the boys. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This Christmas season is bittersweet. My daughter and I were decorating the house last night. Her brother, who is 21, was getting ready to go out with friends so he had no interest in helping. Last year, and every year before, we would decorate together, listen to Christmas music, and have some laughs. So at one point while decorating, Megan sat down on the couch and just seemed disinterested. Of course, I felt annoyed to be doing it all myself, but instead of getting angry, I simply asked what was up. She looked at me with watery eyes and said, “Mom, this is my last year home. Next year, I’ll be away at college. And Michael is not even helping us!” My heart broke. I just didn’t know what to say, because truthfully, I was thinking the same thing!
I tried to get her to enjoy the moment, and not think about next year, but was unsuccessful. I was exchanging texts with a friend of mine, so I told him about Megan. His response was, “Tell Meg she carries home in her heart.” I could not have come up with a more perfect thing to say, and his text blew me away. So I passed that message along to Megan, and she almost cried. I have to admit that my response was the same.
Life has changed, and so have the holidays, since my divorce over 10 years ago. But although it is hard for the kids to share holidays, and have to celebrate with their parents separately, they know they are loved. Growing up is hard, but so is being the parent to children who are becoming adults. I remember those days when the children were young. Holiday preparations were filled with excitement and anticipation. I have to remind myself that although holidays are not the same as they were years ago, I can make them all about spending time with my young adult children. At their ages, their lives are full with friends, school, and jobs. Any time that we can carve out to spend together is a huge bonus! I have to also remind myself that I am an incredibly lucky mom to have two wonderful kids who still actually WANT to spend time with me. I suppose that means I have done my job. I have to believe that I have done right by them, and that I will be sending them off into the real world with the tools they need. What they do with those tools is up to them.
So, although at times the holidays lack the excitement they had when my kids were young, I have to accept that life changes. Change is good. I absolutely cannot look at this as the Last Christmas. Instead, it is the first of many Christmases with my “adult” children. It’s a beautiful thing!