Christmas and Change

87785681Christmas and change.

Those are two words that don’t often go together. Traditions are precious and family members often work hard to protect their tightly held rituals.

In the weeks before Christmas, our family decorates the tree and the house together. We make cut out cookies and decorate them together. On Christmas Even we attend church together and follow that with dinner out at a local restaurant. Christmas morning we put cinnamon rolls in the oven just as we start opening presents and they are piping hot and ready to eat as we finish up unwrapping presents.

These are the traditions we’ve done for over 28 years as we raised our family. They are precious traditions to my husband and I as well as our kids.

But things are changing as some of our kids now have families of their own and need to start their own traditions. That means Christmas and change need to happen in the same sentence.

My parents experienced this 28 years ago when Mark and I announced that we wanted to be home on Christmas morning so our own daughter could wake up in her own bed and enjoy the wonder of discovering a filled stocking and presents that appeared overnight under the tree. My parents accepted that change with courage and never made us feel guilty for messing with long-standing holiday traditions. It was a gift they gave us then and it is a gift we can now pass on to our own children who now want their young families to experience Christmas morning in their own homes.

Change is never easy. As a friend of mine often says, “You can’t get to where you need to go without leaving where you are.” It’s that leaving part that’s hard. There’s a grieving that comes with letting go of what is familiar and precious to us. Yet it’s in the letting go that we also open ourselves to new horizons.

This year we won’t have all our family members around the tree on Christmas morning. However, in letting go of that tradition and being flexible, we are exchanging it for the experience of watching our grandchildren experience the wonder of Christmas a day before. This is our new normal.

I suppose this flexibility thing started over 2000 years ago when a little baby was born in a humble stable. I would imagine that delivering a baby in a barn isn’t how Mary or Joseph envisioned their baby coming into this world. I guess you could say that they set the stage for Christmas and change.

So if it worked for them I think it can work for us too.

How about you? How have you learned to be flexible with your Christmas expectations? 


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5 thoughts on “Christmas and Change

  1. My oldest is 13 and all five kids are still at home. But the extended family traditions around holidays are so strong that to change them would bring loads of hurt and conflict. So when I only had two children, we moved our Christmas to the 26th. We spend Christmas Eve with my family, and Christmas Day with my husbands family. December 26th is our Christmas. I get a whole day with my husband and kids. We choose our food and festivities together. No one is upset with us for missing anything. And maybe, just maybe when my children are grown, I might get to keep my day because no one will want them on the 26th! Here’s hoping!

  2. Merry Christmas Jill,
    Thanks so much for this post. And boy, isn’t it true. David and I are right there with you. This year has brought the biggest change yet for our family. Emily and her husband have been living in Japan since February and just celebrated their first anniversary Sunday. Jennie and Michael will be having baby #2, scheduled on the 26th but at least they are in Texas close by. So we also will be celebrating our Christmas a day early and via Skype with Emily. Change is hard, but to see our children setting their traditions and happy is all a Mom can ask for.

    I saw that you had surgery recently, and as I don’t know the details just want you to know that you are in my prayers for a good recovery. Please tell Mark we said hello. Will be up in Bloomington in a couple weeks for a few days.

    I always enjoy your insights and wisdom and remember our Eastview days with sweet smiles and fond memories.

    Love to all,
    In Christ’s name,

    • Nancy, good to hear from you! My surgery was a lumpectomy and my next steps in this breast cancer journey are chemo and radiation. It will be a long Spring. I don’t know how much time you have when you’ll be in Bloomington, but Mark and I would love to see you guys if you have the time!

      • Jill,
        We would LOVE to get together for even a cup of coffee or a bite out. I could give you a call or email you. I will be up on the 8th in the evening. David is driving up on the 4th. We will be around until Sunday morning when we return to Texas. Let’s make it happen! 🙂

  3. Our Christmas had to change not because of our family, but because of my parents. My fathers illness became worse (he had Parkinson’s ) and could not travel any more and so we began to have Christmas by phone! They live in Florida and us in Kentucky so traveling is somewhat expensive and can be hard with limited time. Dad passed away 2 years ago this coming January and we have continued the tradition, but this year we are going to try skyping now that my 80 year old mother has invested in a new “up to date technical” computer! Hopefully we will get to “see” each other this year for Christmas! Times change and you are right you do have to move right along with them no matter what the situation!