Christmas comes around again. With four children, their spouses and their children, scheduling a Christmas gathering becomes a little more complicated with each passing year. We want to do all of the gatherings we have always had, plus we need to fit in one for our immediate family. It is tricky at best, and demands a little effort, both in scheduling and understanding why our gathering often takes on a secondary importance.
Most of the Christmas Eves since 1982, at least, have been spent with our dear friends who years ago became the people who founded with us French Creek Valley Christian School. Snacks, visiting, and wonderful singing of almost every Christmas song and carol rounds out the evening. Over the years, as our children have grown and become independent, the gathering has grown as they have found spouses and significant others to bring into the circle. This is an event we anticipate and want to include in our holiday plans.
Christmas day is generally spent at my mom's with my siblings, their kids and their kids, as well as my special aunt and uncle. Christmas evening was generally spent with my husband's five bothers and sisters and their spouses and off-springs. It used to be 24 hours, minus time for sleep, of visiting, eating, gift giving and receiving. But as the children have grown another factor has crept in, one that requires our attention, but over which we have little control. And that is, our kids' spouses have families and grandparents, too.
Add to this mix, our third-born son's pending divorce, and an entirely new dimension has ensued: when he can have the children. Some of my kids have remarked that they are tired of the soon-to-be x-wife planning our Christmases for us, they are right. But, our desire to keep a working relationship with her (lest she threaten to keep the grandchildren from us because we have no real legal right anyway) usually means we agree to her dictates.
Further complicating the mix is our son and his family who live in Florida, whom we never see at Christmas unless they come here, which has happened twice, actually. This year, we almost made it down, but alas, it's just not practical for all sorts of reasons.
So, our gathering will be on Monday, December 27, because I am a negotiator, and seek the middle ground. It generally means less stress, but always requires a new paradigm of thought. Although my husband is disappointed, our one daughter-in-law lost her grandmother a month ago, and for her, spending Christmas with her dad is important. Our daughter was married in August and now that they are living with us, so we also desire to make some personal space for them. With my father's passing, we all feel it necessary to support our mom in her hosting of Christmas dinner. And, finally, because our son's children and their availability, and for all of the reasons above, our celebration is postponed. It does give us a little longer to prepare: that extra time, I'm sure will be used.
I'm trying, as always to move to the middle and strive for contentment during this happy and peaceful season. Whatever contemporary philosophy applies, minimizing expectations, and allowing oneself to be surprised by the many blessings of the season, seems a reasonable position to take.
Whatever the outcome, one overwhelming fact remains: my father is not with us physically this year. It is incredibly painful, truly, and those of you who have experienced the loss of a parents know this. So, as we did with Easter (the first holiday without him), and Memorial Day, Father's Day, July 4th, Kim's wedding, his October birthday, and mom's, too; we will laugh and cry, and laugh and cry, a most complex state of emotion.
Merry Christmas, Dad. I miss you, and love you always.