The holiday season that, for most, began on Thanksgiving (or even just after Halloween for the early revelers) is quickly coming to a close. Officially, Christmas season ends with the Feast or the Magi or Little Christmas on January 6. For most people, going back to work or school after New Year’s Day signals the end of the holiday season.
That’s just it thought, it’s a season, not a just a day. I think if we treat it like a whole season there are many more opportunities to make it special. We can set ourselves up for disappointment if we put all our expectations on one day. It’s not like we judge a whole summer by our Independence Day plans, right?
As we age and children leave the nest, we can feel either left out, disappointed, or just plain sad when some family members need to meet obligations to spend a holiday with in-laws, and other family members are simply not around any more. There are however, so many great things to do during the holiday season and so many days in which to host get togethers with family and friends alike.
There’s also the blending of families created by death and divorce and new relationships, and in the best scenarios, inclusion of all parents and grandparents, even when they are former-spouses. This isn’t always easy. We’re working on that. Somewhat successfully, although I know it’s awkward at times; weird, as my daughter says. But you know, life is weird.
If someone had told me fifteen years ago that my daughter and I would be spending the holidays this year living far from New Jersey, trying to make the most of the time with someone else’s family, I would not have believed them. I don’t think that either Kurt or I could have imagined that at our age we’d be starting over; navigating new family relationships, yet seeking approval from our love’s children rather than parents. But such is life.
So there was Kurt’s birthday dinner with his family the week before Christmas. A solo run that took me past some Chicago Holiday sites like the Millennium Park Christmas Tree and the Skating Ribbon. Christmas Eve with almost everyone, a quiet Christmas with just us and my daughter. The new Star Wars (not once, but twice) and Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.
After I got home from dropping my daughter back at her apartment last night I felt exhausted; emotionally drained from all the feelings that made up these last few weeks…from joy to disappointment…from sadness and mourning to satisfaction and accomplishment…and most importantly, love. We embrace all the messiness to be surrounded by those we love.
Every year we are going to get a little better at making everyone as happy as we can. And thankfully it is a season. So many more days to make the most of it. To find quiet time to share what we love that bring us mutual joy…and to not let the entire season be marred by a Christmas Day with a puking dog.