Friday, December 15, 2017

Reclaiming My Holiday Joy: Guest Post By Emily Gaffney

     Today I'm happy once again to share another heartfelt essay written from by Emily Gaffney on the changes we experience during the holidays when our grown children are no longer home to celebrate with us. Luckily for Emily, her Christmases are about to become quite a bit brighter.....


                      Reclaiming My Holiday Joy


I use to have Christmas Spirit... enough to make everyone in my family feel warm and fuzzy about Santa’s impending visit... enough to spare actually. But over the last few years, I’ve felt a waning of sorts... like I just can’t get it up for Christmas.  
With the aging of my kids, I’ve reined it in. I no longer feel the need to achieve Pinterest perfection. These days, I fashion a little garland with some white lights on the stairs (okay... a lot of white lights...), erect the Christmas village, hang a wreath on the door, and call it a day. Without children to enjoy it (and a comparatively limited social calendar...), there’s just no reason to go all out.  
And that’s okay. My five children express happy holiday memories of festive winter days at our home, filled with bright lights, silver bells and pine tree smells. They remember stairs festooned with boughs of holly and reams of garland... twinkling colored bulbs and a warm crackling fire... advent calendars filled with candy... carols playing in the background all day, and cider literally mulling on the stove. 
It was all there (as evidenced in a library of videos), and my kids ate it up. Who wouldn’t? 
I still think about making cookies... I think about adding more garland... I think about gathering friends for spiked egg nog and caroling... I think about buying new wrapping paper (like a tree falling in the woods - does paper from 2013 matter if there’s no one to question the existence of Santa?)... I think, I think, I think... But I rarely actually do
It feels like a lot of work for a family where the youngest is now 22. Honestly, the kids would rather have a wad of cash from Santa to spend frivolously on whatever they don’t actually need. And this year, two of our brood will be elsewhere, further diminishing my personal holiday cheer. No... Christmas morning is just not the same without the excitement and awe of young children there to enjoy it. 

But a big change is on the horizon for next year, and I believe I’ll have ample opportunity to reclaim my lost Christmas Spirit. My husband and I finally met our two grandkids for the first time on December 1st (a long story, but with a decidedly happy ending). Henry is “almost four” and Lily is 5 months old. Their visit came during our town’s annual Christmas Walk. Henry got to see Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive off the harbor in a lobster boat. He saw holiday dancers, and heard costumed carolers. He viewed a parade, complete with dancing elves throwing candy. Seeing Henry watch the festivities was inspiring, and kindled a little fire under my holiday spirit. 
Now - as “Poppy” and “Mimi” – we’re already making plans for next year when Santa will find Henry and Lily at our house on December 25th. Our grandkids will have to go over the river and through the woods to get here, but we’ll make it worth their while with a full-on holiday assault. 
We’ll buy a gargantuan tree and cover it with blinking colored lights (not those tiny, sensible white lights)... We’ll shop our way through Toys R Us and Target - our cart overflowing with the latest in trendy toys, trinkets and gadgets... We’ll stock up on the ingredients needed to make colorful Christmas cookies... We’ll play Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (over and over)... 
Poppy and I will dash through the snow with our grandkids, (if it snows - Boston can be iffy)... We’ll build a frosty snowman... We’ll jingle our bells and roast some chestnuts on an open fire... And on Christmas morning, 12 drummers drumming will wake the kids so they can open their stockings which were hung with care... And finally, they’ll open brown paper packages tied up with string, which will definitely contain some of their favorite things. 
Oh, what fun it is to think about next Christmas with Henry and Lily! I guess I’d forgotten how much having children around can brighten the holiday season. Only 344 more days, and we’ll have ourselves a Merry Little Christmas – once again! 

AUTHOR BIO:

Emily Gaffney is a Baby-Booming, Empty Nester who’s living life-on-hold, while caring for her 91 year old mother (Right.Next.Door.) She writes, with humor, about the emotional baggage that often accompanies caretaking an aging parent. Find her (and Mom) at her website 50 Shades of Aging and on Facebook

14 comments:

  1. While Xmas is not among my celebrations, I experience the same feelings on those holidays where there were a tribe of kids running around and enjoying the rituals. And, yes, seeing grandchildren exude that same enthusiasm and wonder brings back memories.
    Enjoy growing your new memories.

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    1. My grandchild definitely makes all the holiday work worthwhile!

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    2. Thanks Cerebrations (love the name...) Clearly, you "get" it. I've definitely entered a new phase in life!

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  2. How nice, Emily! I can completely relate to losing some Christmas spirit when the kids are not going to be with us. Hey, they have a life. Congrats on seeing your grandchildren! Your plans for next year sound perfect. Cheers :)

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    1. Thanks Lisa! Our next enclave is in July on Cape Cod. Life is good.

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  3. Glad to hear Emily finally got to meet her grandkids.

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  4. I don't have kids but I feel the same not having my parents around during the holidays since they moved to retire in Florida a bunch of years ago.

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    1. I was in my 20's when my parents became "Snow Birds." As the last of 4 kids, I always felt I got a little short changed on the whole family xmas thing. Thanks for reading Phil!

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  5. Things definitely do change as the children get older. As we were decorating the tree, we marveled that we got the whole thing done in 20 minutes. No drama, no ear infections, no one crying over a dropped/broken ornament. Just three adults. But there is also a sweet joy to this new stage. Less pressure, more time to relax and connect. I don't know if I will ever have grandchildren, but I'm thankful for health and peace to celebrate this most wonderful day!

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    1. Well said Seana! With the clan coming the first week of December, I got to enjoy a much more relaxed 25th. Just as you say... no drama, no crying... just adults doing what adults do! Thanks for your comment!

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  6. My kids are grown well and live in another country. I miss them during Christmas and all other occasions. While technology has enabled us to meet someone via video chat, the actual presence of that person is far beautiful.

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    1. Kudos to you Stephanie, for keeping up with technology and being able to connect with your kids via video chat. It's important to me to learn as much as I can now about techno stuff, because I know it is only going to get more complicated, and I will always want to be able to connect with my kids - no matter where they are.

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