Whether your kids are grown and flown or have one foot out the door, the holidays can be challenging to navigate for Empty Nesters. Do you try to corral everyone for a big sit down dinner or settle back and make a holiday dinner for two? Yes, it would be ideal to be all together, enjoying your favorite menus and traditions (assuming everyone is getting along), but sometimes it just isn’t in the cards. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to enjoy a new adventure!
One of the best things about having an empty nest is freedom. Yes FREEDOM! If you haven’t already heard the announcement, you are now free to move about the cabin. No baby sitters to hire, to curfews to honor and no shuttling kids back and forth. So there you are, just wondering what to do with all that FREEDOM—the freedom you dreamed of whilst running all the errands and doing all the “doing” you used to do. Now what? Here’s where I come in friends! While I am still in the “almost” empty nest phase, I have a few ideas—some of which we have done over the years because my family is tiny. So, here goes:
There is a lot to be said for a quiet Thanksgiving or Christmas for two if you love to cook and nest. We switch on the Macy’s Day Parade and the Westminster Dog show while preparing turkey breast, stuffing and our favorite sides for candle lit Thanksgiving, followed by a screening of the first Christmas movie of the season. For Christmas we love to do brunch and, if the weather allows, we spend the afternoon taking a long walk at a local park. If you don’t like to cook, you can always order in, and you don’t even have to serve a traditional meal! Yes, I’m suggesting being a rule breaker if you feel like it! I’ve done everything from having a Swanson’s TV dinner alone in my apartment to a five start Italian feast.
I like to take it up a notch once in a while, so we book ourselves a lovely bed and breakfast or cabin in the mountains and enjoy a quiet getaway with a catered meal and—you can always meet up with friends or family for the big day, if they are available. Because we live in Florida, I like to enjoy the fall colors as much as possible. I have found that booking fairly early to get the perfect place is optimal, but we’ve done it spur of the moment as well—and have some funny stories to tell—like the year we were on the road and ended up in a small town on Christmas Day. A sports bar was all that was open, so we ended up eating deep fried chicken and watching a football game of some sort with very enthusiastic locals. We had a great time—I’ll never forget it, and that deep fried chicken…
Though sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, a quick ski trip can make for an amazing and memorable holiday. While ski resorts along the east coast sometimes have issues with snow in late fall, but we have loved taking a quick trip up to Snowshoe Mountain where one can stay in a condo and ski out of the building. We have learned to make reservations in advance for our holiday dinner at one of the nicer restaurants, because in spite rule breaking, I do like all the trimmings at the holidays.
An all time favorite is going to an historical city such as Williamsburg Virginia, Savannah Georgia, Charlestown North Carolina or Ashville South Carolina. I don’t know why, but it just seems right to visit an historical city for the holidays. One year, we stayed in Savannah, at a lovely Bed and Breakfast. Our concierge turned us on to the best restaurants, tours and museums around town. All were within walking distance or accessible through Savannah’s trolley service. We ended up eating Thanksgiving dinner at an Italian restaurant–and no, turkey was not on the menu. But I will never forget that Thanksgiving nor the food, which was amazing.
How about a cruise? We spent four days on a mini cruise to the Bahamas which was a great getaway from the overwhelming hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I loved not having to cook and being pampered at the ship board spa. We also visited the Bahamas and got a quick tour before heading back. That year I was really in need of time out and complete pampering, so the cruise where all I had to do was show up, fit the bill perfectly.
I like to call this time of life my “mid life renaissance” a time for new beginnings, for doing what really matters, for experimenting but most of all for living joyfully.
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