Saturday, December 6, 2008

Letting Go at Christmas

Christmas has always been a magical time of year for me. This is the time of year, when no matter how dark things are, I still believe in miracles. Its been a sacred family time as well, with many small traditions--some that date back to my childhood, some that I've instituted with our family. We have a seafood meal on Christmas Eve, (in a nod to our Italian ancestors), walk around the neighborhood and view the Christmas luminary, and then come back to exchange "family" gifts (in contrast to "Santa" gifts). Our gift to the kids is always matching Christmas pajamas--a tradition that starting when they were as babies, as a guarantees they'd all look great in the Christmas morning photos. After gifts are exchanged, we read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" aloud, and then go outside and toss reindeer food (a mixture of oats and red glitter) on the lawn. Then its time for bed.

I've been feeling very sorry for myself these days, as my fifteen-almost-sixteen-year old son will not be with us for Christmas this year--at all. He'll be gone from December 19 through January 4, celebrating the holiday in Edinburgh with his girlfriend. As that puts thousands of miles and the Atlantic Ocean between us, its safe to say he won't be a part of our holidays. I've been wallowing in my misery, and refusing to get engaged in the season.

Then yesterday, my friend Jenny shared a page she'd written for Mahalo with me, on Christmas in Iraq. Reading it, and thinking about all the parents whose children won't be with them for much less joyful reasons than Tom's, broke through to me. He is following is heart...and I owe him not only my permission to go, but my joy. So, I'll pack up a package of reindeer food, a copy of "Twas the Night Before Christmas", and the traditional Christmas Eve gift of pajamas--with an extra pair for Julia.

I hope customs doesn't confiscate the reindeer food.


  1. Oh my goodness this article brought tears to my eyes! I was just the other day remembering how much I missed the ole days when the kids were all little and enjoying Santa. Now my oldest is in Iraq and and the rest are teenagers and lead there own lives most of the time.

    Your article made me remember that there are so many reasons to have a family holiday and to remember the good and the bad but to make sure you are appreciating the spirit of Xmas and especially enjoying your loved ones.
    ~ Kasey

  2. Susan, this post really touched me. I have been feeling a little sorry for myself as well. We've only got the one little one, and she's going on fourteen this year. While she'll be home with us this holiday, she's become a teenager, which means that she wants to spend less time at home with her mommy baking cookies and decorating the tree. She'd rather go skating with her friends, and though I want her to have fun and build good relationships, I also want to shrink her down so that she's seven again and excited about putting the sprinkles on the cookies and leaving reindeer food out on the lawn for Santa's reindeer.

    It is so important though, as you pointed out, to take into consideration that 1. Our babies are growing up and will one day soon begin sharing the traditions we instilled in them with their own families and 2. There are others who are far less fortunate, and sometimes I forget that.

    I hope that your youngest has a safe journey across the pond and that the peace and joy of the holiday spirit lifts you up. *HUG*

  3. I am sorry but since when does a 15 year old boy leave home to go spend several days with his girlfriend? My daughter turned 16 and she just started dating! She can go to a movie and maybe out to dinner, but go spend a week with her boyfriend at his house-forget it! What happened to doing that when you are in college and you meet some one from out of state?!!? confused/old fashioned? I do not get it....he is 15, not 19 or 20! He should be at home for Xmas-maybe go visit another day-the day after Xmas or not at all. Email and write letters until he grows up.

  4. I'm sorry that you felt the need to attack my parenting choices anonymously, rather than leaving an identity so we could explore the beliefs behind our different choices.