"It's okay if you guys can't make it for Thanksgiving, but we sure would like it if you could make it for Christmas". This was my Mother's wish, which in my mind was a command... but a command that I embraced and I would break legs to make happen. For me and then for my husband... and then for me and my husband and two girls. This was Christmas! It was the melding of tradition, and changes within that tradition, and adjusting to that tradition, but we made it for Christmas, even if it meant breaking legs. We cheered the love and just being together.
When my husband's parents were still here, they had their turn too! Typically we would travel to Chicago and spend a number of days before Christmas day to eat the varieties of homemade cookies, take the kids to the park, visit the Art Institute when Grandma and Grandpa would watch the girls. We would eat up and drink in as much at this Christmas as humanly possible and then travel back to Minnesota to head to the farm, celebrating with family on Christmas night. We'd break legs to make this happen, schlepping young girls, plowing through bitter cold and snowstorms to make it happen. We made commitments to those whose turn it was. Because it wouldn't be their turns much longer! We knew this, and we embraced this fact.
Now it's our turn! It has taken a number of years to get my footing with this. I felt responsible for taking up the mantle and making Christmas happen. There were a couple of years when we did not have a tree! Decorating is still tenuous at best, and missing my parents and our longstanding tradition comes flooding back like a tsunami. Every year. It will always be this way, and will never be the same.
But! I order and prepare my Mother's standing rib roast of beef, filling the house with food smells. I work at, with my husband, providing a warm and lovely space to share our new-found tradition of staying in one place! We share gifts and love, eat heartily, and play games. We've found a new place for Christmas and it is different (STILL), but it works.
I have come to realize that it is not the responsibility of the two of us to make this work. It is and always has been a group effort. The whole is the sum of all of the parts, and everyone has a lot to give and share. Christmas is what you want it to be. The traditions that we have made over the years continue... some are melded and adjusted and changed. But they still exist.
I have made a personal journey to make it past my parents being gone and my husband's parents being gone. It's never easy. Things don't just fall into place. It's my husband's and my turn. Christmas is what we all want it to be, and it takes effort and love and adjusted traditions. It's our turn, but it's not our turn much longer. Cheers!