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For as much as we love Christmas, Thanksgiving might be a very close second on our favorite holidays rankings. Yes, we broke the rules this year and pulled out our Christmas decorations, music and movie a little earlier than tradition, but we didn't skip over Thanksgiving. No, we embraced it with both arms and bellies.
With things still out of whack due to the Covid-19 pandemic, everything is looking a little different, especially in how we celebrate the holidays. For Life in the Higham House, we are beginning to recognize that things will probably be different for a while, and not necessarily because of Covid.
This Thanksgiving there was just 5 of us gathered around the table. Our oldest chose to stay at college for the third year in a row, leaving us with our first empty seat. Our number 2, spent the morning with us, but later left to have dinner with his girlfriend and her family. Out second empty chair. And while this might be a bit upsetting (at first it was), we are coming to grips with the fact that the holiday's will from now on be a little different.
At some point, going "home" for the holiday's means "staying home" for the holidays.
We love to remember the past. Early in our marriage, we made the trips back home to be with family. Packing up the car and making our way to Philadelphia or Baltimore. Then the kids started coming and for a number of years we continued to make the trip, especially for Thanksgiving. But as our lives changed, more kids, big roles in ministry, commitments and sporting events, making the trip home became more and more difficult. Eventually, we had to to make the tough call and just say that we wouldn't be traveling on the holidays. I'm sure this brought dismay and sadness to our parents, but isn't this the way? At some point, going "home" for the holiday's means "staying home" for the holidays.
By staying home we were able to establish our own traditions, creating our own family memories. And with each approaching year, we looked forward to practicing those traditions and creating even more memories. But somewhere in the backs of our minds, we knew our time would come. The time when we would have the empty chairs at the Thanksgiving table.
Yes, we feel the sadness and loss of not having our family all together for Thanksgiving, however, it is forcing us to rethink and reinvent our holiday traditions. This year has helped us turn the page and begin a new chapter in our story.
We realize that if we want to keep our kids plugged in around the holidays, we need to stop living in the past, and start looking towards the future. We often find ourselves remember what it was like with little kids. When we do this, we want to hang on to what was. But we don't have little kids anymore. We have young adults and teenagers. And what our young adults and teenager want to do, isn't what we've always done. Sure, they appreciate the traditions and fond memories, but they're beginning to look ahead at what their lives are going to be.
As parents, we have fought for our family. We have worked hard to be intentional and to make our time with our kids matter. And so this year, we ventured out to start a few new traditions that we hope will help all of us make this all important life transition.
This Thanksgiving we introduced the Family Holiday Game Time. Amy and Breya, came up with the idea of family games while on a walk together. The idea comes as we look to elevate the holiday experience to something more that just sitting in our rooms on our various devices. So with a little planning, Breya came up with a handful of games, while Amy went and shopped for some fun, silly prizes.
Now let me be honest, I wasn't sure how this would all go down. But I liked the idea of trying something new. Well, by the end of the day, I'd say the games were a big hit. We played, we laughed, we knit-picked the rules, laughed some more, and made some brand new memories. It ended up being one of our favorite Thanksgivings, and now we have a new tradition!
I have always held to the hope that as our kids begin their families, our home would be the place where they want to be for the holidays.
I have always held to the hope that as our kids begin their families, our home would be the place where they want to be for the holidays. I dream of having a house that is able to welcome all five kids and their spouses, and the grandkids, for the holidays. I don't suppose that we will all live near one another, but that coming home would be something they would look forward to. And in coming home, we would have the Hallmark holiday as a family. But to get to that place, we have continue to create the space for new ideas, new activities, and new traditions.
Yes, we missed having our two oldest boys at the Thanksgiving table. And yes, we know that at some point someone will say, "we just can't make it home this year." We'll cross that bridge when we get there. But we're not there yet. Christmas now just a couple weeks away. It's time to begin thinking and plan for our time together. Oh, there will be games and prizes, and the opportunity to create a new way of doing the holidays.
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