The upcoming holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year. As with most women my age, it is a mixture of the past and the present. Traditions passed down combined with those created when our children were young swirl together in a mix of holiday activity. So much fun to plan and share!

And as our families change, aspects of our celebrations change also. That may include changing the menu a bit to accompany special and recent dietary needs. Or to accommodate a new family member perhaps.   Of course, you still have to have the traditional holiday fare; the expected food everyone is looking forward to gorging on!

“Mom, I have been looking forward to your _________all year!”

But none of the seasonal preparations are important without the family and friends to share it with. I think family holidays can be divided into life stages. Consider these:

  1. Returning from college on holiday break.

While this may not be as smooth or as hassle-free as anticipated, it is still a time when you are so glad to have home cooking and sleep in your own bed!

  1. Bringing partners, fiancées, spouses home to be included in the family.

There may even be a little one along for a stay at the new grandparent’s house.

  1. Rescheduling and sharing.

Now your family has grown to include other whole families and traditions so you must prepare to share time and maintain a flexible calendar or things can get messy. If you want your share of their time, you MUST control your “Bah! Humbug!” tendencies.

  1. Traveling (more on this stage to follow).
  2. Full disclosure here.   I am a Christmas person. As soon as the dishes are cleaned from Thanksgiving dinner, I have Christmas music wafting through my house. Well at least, blending with the roar of ballgames!

I love all the preparations, the shopping, the planning…yes, even the wrapping.   I will deliberately not have some of my packages wrapped at the store because I love to wrap Christmas presents. (Certain friends of mine have suggested that could be a second career for me!) And yes, I still love to go to the store and shop. I realize that some things are much better to purchase online and I do participate in that. But I always plan some of my purchases to be done in person. I love the holiday atmosphere in the stores.

Of course, all this FUN leads to fatigue. It will hit most likely after the family leaves.

You are exhausted as you pack up leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner, or wash extra laundry from a Christmas visit.   Back to #4.

I am entering a new life stage for holidays, I think.   Recently my son had a serious look on his face and approached me with…

“Mom, you know now that we all have kids of our own and live in different cities, it is going to be very hard for all of us to be at your house for Christmas. I don’t want to upset you, but I think that it may be time to start rotating houses for our holiday celebration. We will be happy to host Christmas this year.”

I look into the naive eyes of my little boy who has grown into a family man. My mind is asking, “Do you really know what you are committing to? Are you sure that my busy daughter-in-law is okay with this gargantuan task?”  

I breathe deeply…. and say, “Sure. I think that is a great idea!”

And immediately I feel strangely lighter. My mind races to mark off chores from my mental preparation list. Is this actually a Christmas gift from my son?

The next stage has begun.   I get to travel at Christmas!

(But as with most expensive gifts, better keep the receipt. He may want to take it back!)

Let the holiday season begin!