It’s November First already. You are probably sitting there drinking your coffee feeling the same sense of shock. You have a full day ahead. Heck a full month…wait…two months ahead. So, let’s put those Halloween decorations away and get cracking.
Now that I have your adrenaline pumping, perhaps you even took a huge gulp of coffee as you consider the months ahead and maybe you aren’t liking me for reminding you of the holidays just now. Bear with me, I have some news. I’ve been thinking of you. Some of you are looking at a very busy season of travel and holiday hosting, while others will be looking ahead to the quiet of a newly empty nest.
During Brooke’s growing up years, the holidays were bustling. From fall festivals, and Halloween to Thanksgiving and weekly holiday parties, my logistical skills were tested to the max. It was a whirl wind of fun and I loved every minute of it.
I wasn’t prepared for the abrupt crash I would experience as Brooke hit the last three years of high school, and now year three of college. The holiday season has changed considerably.
My former husband and I were divorced just prior to Brooke’s sophomore year in high school. She and I celebrated Christmas in our new villa (aka the casa) just as we always had, and then she spent a week with her father. Her absence that second week of Christmas felt so empty; but I was glad to have celebrated Christmas Day with her.
Then there was the year that Brooke was too cool for everything. She didn’t accompany me to my friend’s gingerbread party, our annual kickoff of the holiday season, we didn’t make cookies together, nor did we watch holiday movies. Matching or complementary Christmas p.j.’s were out too. We celebrated around the schedule the family of her boyfriend. It’s a normal part of growing up apparently, but it till hurt.
A year later, Brooke’s father passed away suddenly, just days before Halloween. We went through the holidays with hollow eyes and sad hearts; having navigated a range of family issues, and estate logistics.
Now there is Roger and me. We’ve been together for around five years now. We are both from the north, and miss a snowy Christmas, and as a new couple, we are creating our own set of traditions and things to look forward to during the holidays. I am thrilled that he loves the house decorated for Christmas and doesn’t mind my going a little over the top during this time of year.
I share this so you can see just how much the holiday season has changed in my life, and perhaps take solace in the fact that I survived the difficult times but that we are now on a happy footing once again. Naturally, Brooke is older now, and has passed though her teen rebellion, and we agreed that, while it’s ok to miss her father, he would want us to celebrate, live life fully, and to put the past behind us.
We have adopted new traditions, I’ve learned to go with the flow, and we make a point of celebrating together when ever and how ever we can. This year we are planning to visit her and see her new apartment over the holidays.
With a little planning and setting our intention to be joyful, we can create a perfect holiday, no matter whether it’s just you (been here done that), or whether you are expecting a full house. If you have experienced loss or a set back, it is my hope that this will let you know that time heals our wounds. We went through the motions during those difficult times, and that time has breathed light and love into our home once again.
I have made a guide to share some thoughts this season. It’s my first one, so I plan to build on it year to year. You can receive it by becoming a newsletter subscriber, and if you are already a subscriber, you have already gotten yours sent directly to your inbox. Click Here to get your guide.
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These are beautiful holiday photos. Christmas is always the same for us. Paul’s parents and my Dad come over to our house. It’s nice, but not super exciting.
Thank you Julie, nice but not super exciting can be a good thing.
Such a wonderful post about how traditions change. You know, being a military family, it has been difficult to stick to traditions as everything changes every year with where we will live or if my husband will even be home for the holidays. So we just take it all in stride and do what feels best for us in the moment! In fact, we rarely decide on our holiday plans until the week before. Sometimes we stay home alone and sometimes we travel to see family. So I guess that is our tradition…winging it!
That’s the best! Some of the most fun holidays were with my dad, and we did just that!
Your post made me teary eyed. Life is always changing. My kids are both teens now (13 and 17) and the holidays already felt different last year. It’s a great idea to start creating new traditions that work with the periods of life we are in. Thank you for sharing!
I’m sorry! We are looking forward to a new and different holiday this year; much smaller and more intimate, fewer gifts but hopefully more love. The fact that we may be looking at a very different kind of celebration is sometimes difficult, that’s part of why I made the guide for you guys. We find our way to beauty by making the best of what we have.
What a shock to have your ex pass away at such a young age. We’ve moved across the country (we’re no longer FL neighbors!) and everything is having to be recalibrated. So glad you, Roger and Brooke can make some new traditions and memories. And Haha, yep having coffee and amazed that it’s Nov. 1!
We had been divorced for about 18 months; the divorce had been amicable, and it was a huge shock. I think we are on a good footing this season, but I know not everyone is, so it’s important, I think, to acknowledge that some years are just tough, but the bad times don’t last.
Oh Kim, I didn’t know you had moved! Sending best wished to your hew home! I told Roger that lots of us would be sipping our coffee and well being shocked…hahah… anyway, I can’t wait to hear more of your move.
Great story about traditions and transitions. My youngest left for college this year. My friend group seems in constant flux. It is a weird space where my friends were always the parents of my kids. laura in CO
My friend group ghosted when we moved twenty minutes down the road. I felt so alone and everything seemed so quiet. I began to feel the pull to do this blog, and tip toed in. Now it’s going strong and I have a full life. It just takes a little time to get our bearings. Hang in there.
Hey Laura, I so feel you! When my daughter went to high school, we moved just twenty minutes from our home in Safety Harbor to Tampa, it went quiet all the women I had been friendly with moved on with their kids. It took a beat, but I have started making new friends here in Tampa, and my daughter and I have become close in different way now that she’s grown, so while I felt lonely and a little sad, things are turning around, and I have this blog and so many wonderful women like you! Hugs, Nina
When I was married to my ex we used to go abroad somewhere warm for Christmas, which was nice but rather souless. Since remarrying and having Isobel we stay at home and have our mums over – I now look forward to Christmas again after years of trying to avoid it! I guess it will change when Isobel gets older so I’m enjoying it while I can!
I’ve done both, we often traveled for the holidays when my father was alive, he always made our trips special; and have stayed at home. We’ve also spent the holidays in the homes of relatives, (I liked that the least-my former husband’s family was very different to mine, and it was always a bit uncomfortable for my daughter and me as we didn’t fit in well.)
I can imagine it hurts when your traditions are gone. But making new ones is exiting! I love Christmas and like to spend it with family!
It feels “empty” and sometimes painful when our traditions slip away. However, making new ones is also special. I am so thrilled that Roger is open to creating traditions with me and loves the little ornaments and such. So while we have sadly said good bye to several things, we are saying a warm hello to others. Thank you so much for stopping by!
[…] and turn the page to pursue a new chapter as empty nesters. They reconnected as a couple and began planning a future together. They see their family during the holidays and are happy that their kids have their own […]