Has Christmas Changed Since The Children Have Left Home?

Waterfall

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I don't know about you, but the last few Christmases seemed to have changed over time....at least for me. Kay mentioned on another thread, she felt abandoned around this time of year.....and she struck a chord with me.
After the kids left home and got married, we still seemed to make sure we spent time together around Christmas. Then the grandchildren came and it was more fun than ever, but now that the grandchildren are getting older and 3 of them don't require a babysitter anymore (often me), the dynamics are changing. I'm starting to feel invisible. All of the women in the family used to preplan together, what to bring for Christmas dinner, what time we should all arrive and who's house it would be at....but fast forward and now I am told when they can "fit us in" and TOLD what they've decided.....restaurants are becoming an option.....
Anyone else feeling a little abandoned?
 

Waterfall

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What about opening Christmas presents? Are you invited to join in watching the grandchildren open their gifts?
My daughter just announced last Christmas that now she wants only her own family to be present for the gifts "from Santa".
 

Mendalla

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Our Christmas has been kind of different for a while now, but not because of our children leaving. Quite the opposite. It's now often the only time he comes home. My family cut out the gift thing a long time ago. We were at the point where we were just passing around gift cards anyhow.

We have been tending to go away at Christmas since it's the one time of year both he and Mrs. M are sure to be free. It kind of messes with the extended family dinner, but with all of us having varying degrees of SAD, heading someplace warm and sunny is worth it for us.

Of course, retirement looms for us in the not-so-distant future, which could bring more change to how we handle the holidays.
 

Waterfall

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Our Christmas has been kind of different for a while now, but not because of our children leaving. Quite the opposite. It's now often the only time he comes home. My family cut out the gift thing a long time ago. We were at the point where we were just passing around gift cards anyhow.

We have been tending to go away at Christmas since it's the one time of year both he and Mrs. M are sure to be free. It kind of messes with the extended family dinner, but with all of us having varying degrees of SAD, heading someplace warm and sunny is worth it for us.

Of course, retirement looms for us in the not-so-distant future, which could bring more change to how we handle the holidays.
Tends to get more complicated when the children marry and time has to be divided.......although when I was young I would invite both sides of the family..... but it isn't always an option for everyone.
Going south for the holiday, sounds nice.....AND you're all still together.....do you think it would feel different when it's just the two of you? Would Nostalgia set in? At this point in your life (possibly?) it is only speculation.
 

Mendalla

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do you think it would feel different when it's just the two of you?
Oh, probably, though we did do our first couples-only vacations since he was very little this year and it was rather liberating at times not having him along. His tastes in what to do don't always gel with ours. Nostalgia is already setting in. I mean, we are empty-nesters for probably 40-45 weeks out of the year now.

As for his future family, God knows if they'll even observe Christmas. He's dating a (progressive) Muslim right now. If that holds, it may be our place for Christmas and their place for Eid or something like that. :unsure:
 

BetteTheRed

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Yes, Christmas is a different thing when you're newlywed, trying to develop new traditions, still attached to your parents. It's also different in places like my ancestral family's home in the Liverpool/Warrington area of England, where all the relations can gather at a big table and there are four generations of the same family, many of them living a stone's throw of where they grew up, sometimes a gen or three in one house for a few years, etc., cousins up the ying-yang so if you aren't one place, you're another. And when your kids are still at home. But then. Especially if you have a few family splits, it can get very difficult. And age and illness and "I'm just staying down in Mexico from Nov to Apr this year". Or, "it's going to have to be chemo over the holidays this year".

I'm planning a small Christmas dinner sometime before Christmas Day for my daughter, her bf, the old guy. May incorporate setting up the tree, lol. I plan to spend much of Christmas Day hosting the peace labyrinth and then ordering in Chinese. I make/purchase assemble a few gifts as they seem to be required, often in the form of a basket; I make salves and candies and do a bit of baking/preserves. It's not many. I provide a big Christmas flower arrangement to grace the centre of my English family's table.
 

Waterfall

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Yes, Christmas is a different thing when you're newlywed, trying to develop new traditions, still attached to your parents. It's also different in places like my ancestral family's home in the Liverpool/Warrington area of England, where all the relations can gather at a big table and there are four generations of the same family, many of them living a stone's throw of where they grew up, sometimes a gen or three in one house for a few years, etc., cousins up the ying-yang so if you aren't one place, you're another. And when your kids are still at home. But then. Especially if you have a few family splits, it can get very difficult. And age and illness and "I'm just staying down in Mexico from Nov to Apr this year". Or, "it's going to have to be chemo over the holidays this year".

I'm planning a small Christmas dinner sometime before Christmas Day for my daughter, her bf, the old guy. May incorporate setting up the tree, lol. I plan to spend much of Christmas Day hosting the peace labyrinth and then ordering in Chinese. I make/purchase assemble a few gifts as they seem to be required, often in the form of a basket; I make salves and candies and do a bit of baking/preserves. It's not many. I provide a big Christmas flower arrangement to grace the centre of my English family's table.
It's good to hear how others are handling things....so thanks for sharing. I'm trying to prevent myself from seeming selfish, which I fear I come across as when I voice my feelings to my family.
I've volunteered to serve Christmas dinner at the church on the 25th twice when we couldn't be together on the actual day and we celebrated on boxing day. Interesting thing is that those we served on Christmas Day were mostly grandparents that were not invited to their families to celebrate along with a few single parents.
 

ChemGal

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I'm clearly a different generation, but yes, things have been changing.
We backed off on gifts a while ago with the adults, and it became stocking stuffers. It used to be guaranteed that we would be splitting Christmas between families (and that goes back quite a while, as even when dating in other relationships we would typically go to at least a dinner on both sides but we would be apart for some of it too).
Once my sister had kids, that changed as staying here became an option that would be understood by both our families. Then last Christmas was the one without Chemguy's Mom and we went out to the extended family thing and the more immediate family dinner was his immediate family coming over to my parents'.

This year is going to turn out different. My sister hasn't declared her plans at all. We're staying put no matter what anyone else is doing and I'm not so sure about having houseguests either. I haven't done any Christmas shopping besides ordering online for the kids. Usually by now I would have stocked up on new gift bags, tags, etc. throughout Nov. and would be well on my way to doing shopping. The adult stocking stuffers just may not be happening at all from us and I don't really care. I hope to at least get some books for the kids, I gave them clothes in the fall so I don't feel the need to seek out more clothes for them. Normally I would have bugged Chemguy to decorate and while the outside lights are up nothing is done in the house - I suggested it a few times to do things that don't involve the big Christmas tree yet but haven't pushed. I do hope with him home this week (he did work today) and my Mom being here we can get some of the decorations out. The tree does take up space and involves shifting some things around so I'm fine on waiting a bit longer on that.
 

Nancy

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Change and tradition....They seem to be at odds over Christmas. Waterfall's sense of feeling abandoned made me sad when I read it. But I know that is a reality. So far, my grown-up kids still really like Christmas and I try my best to get gifts that will make them somewhat happy...which include gift cards, of course! And I spend way too much. For my sisters, we stopped giving gifts and I bake them their Christmas morning cinnamon buns instead. They are appreciative. Our church's minister is doing her best to convince us that we don't need/want a Christmas Eve service. To be fair to her, I think she is really tired out, but is framing the decision in a different way that I am protesting. She said that most of the people that come aren't from our congregation (hence, why have a service?) I think that is the very reason to continue to host the service. I hope I get a chance to talk to her soon and offer to do something so she can have some time off.
 

KayTheCurler

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There is quite a bit of comfort in knowing that others struggle at this time of year too. So many folks are adjusting to changes in family traditions, and so many ways to navigate through the trip. I am trying to NOT place a lot of importance on the date. Trying to see ways of finding joy in small doses of the various parts of my family at different times. One of the things we tried to avoid as parents was loading the kids up with'obligations'. Apparently we were quite successful!

I have wanted to participate in some way in the community Christmas Dinner for several years. Hubby is dead set against it for some reason. Maybe we will bring back some parts of our 'old' tradition and go out for a walk on the 'day', It was always nice to return to some special seasonal treats. No reason we should go without the leffsa, sausage rolls etc. even if the kids are elsewhere.

At the moment there is no tree, no decorations, no gifting to do - but I have caused some delicious odours! I think it might feel like a very long, quiet day. No kids, no grands, no well loved traditions. Guess we should have some ideas of ways to use the time - reading, playing some games, eating etc. The day will seem interminable if hubby doesn't snap out of his 'bad mood' that seems to be a mix of pout and depression.

One thing is obvious - the day will come, tick by and be over until another year.
 

Nancy

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Kay....Games! lots and lots of Games! (along with lots and lots of food!) Sounds perfect to me.
 

Luce NDs

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We had to leave temp home in NS, returning to NB home leaving the children wherever they were ... one moved the other remained rooted ... Uni ache?

Move accomplished Dec 6 one year in T-shirt weather ... moved in in frigid conditions as winter descended practically overnight ... Drumpf will never see it coming ... change in the powerful political climate? Storms do occur providing sand blasts and sanmen ... that's Hur Bae ...

Anyone ever research that word and its meaning as it varies in the vernacular? Commonly ... NO!
 

Waterfall

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I'm clearly a different generation, but yes, things have been changing.
We backed off on gifts a while ago with the adults, and it became stocking stuffers. It used to be guaranteed that we would be splitting Christmas between families (and that goes back quite a while, as even when dating in other relationships we would typically go to at least a dinner on both sides but we would be apart for some of it too).
Once my sister had kids, that changed as staying here became an option that would be understood by both our families. Then last Christmas was the one without Chemguy's Mom and we went out to the extended family thing and the more immediate family dinner was his immediate family coming over to my parents'.

This year is going to turn out different. My sister hasn't declared her plans at all. We're staying put no matter what anyone else is doing and I'm not so sure about having houseguests either. I haven't done any Christmas shopping besides ordering online for the kids. Usually by now I would have stocked up on new gift bags, tags, etc. throughout Nov. and would be well on my way to doing shopping. The adult stocking stuffers just may not be happening at all from us and I don't really care. I hope to at least get some books for the kids, I gave them clothes in the fall so I don't feel the need to seek out more clothes for them. Normally I would have bugged Chemguy to decorate and while the outside lights are up nothing is done in the house - I suggested it a few times to do things that don't involve the big Christmas tree yet but haven't pushed. I do hope with him home this week (he did work today) and my Mom being here we can get some of the decorations out. The tree does take up space and involves shifting some things around so I'm fine on waiting a bit longer on that.
I'm glad to hear from the "other generation" because I guess I just want to know how things have changed with young peoples thinking. Perhaps as time goes on I'm missing the shift in thinking about Christmas as understood by millenials. My oldest says things like "it's just one day in the year, it's fun for kids, adults should be generous all year round anyway....just a money grab."
Does Christmas become tedious over time and lose it's lustre and the preference is just to spend more time with immediate family rather than extended family?
 

ninjafaery

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It seems to me that since my family is scattered far and wide, and opportunities to connect are rare, I am less focused on the home celebration. The last several years have been different each year. Mostly having an non-traditional meal since restaurants aren't open. I'm going to fry up some nice haddock this year. A few beers....
To be honest, having had many rides around the sun, I have worn out the sentiments that were so important years ago. Does groaning and eye-rolling when I have to year some version of Rumpapumpum make me a Grinch?
 

Luce NDs

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Stuff blown all out of proportion to suffice supporting the marketing Bull!
 

Mrs.Anteater

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christmas Eve is German traditional gift giving day and I had been fortunate to be able to take it off every year. Lately, with junior out of the house, I have worked it until noon, as the tree is already up here in Canada ( in Germany, traditionally, it doesn’t go up untilChristmas eve morning, which makes it extremely stressful, because every year, my Dad would discover that the lights don’t work, so he has to get to the store before noon to but new ones. ( all stores were closing at noon) while my mother would be cooking. Church would be an early afternoon service 2 or 3 pm), so that the families get home for the gift giving. While the early service is full of kids, midnight mass was not and better for more reflective worship.
In Canada, I haven’t been to a Christmas service for some years. Junior is really not interested. So it tends to be reduced to eating together and exchanging gifts. Christmas day with our friends is more of a family event for us, as they have two daughters and we play games and watch movies. Boxing day we are with my other friends family and another couple. Food and gift exchange. Too much food for sure. I miss singing Christmas carols, but I am not a good singer anyway.
I might have to go to some public carolling somewhere.
 

Mendalla

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christmas Eve is German traditional gift giving day
I actually knew that. My best friend when I was little (say until middle school) was the youngest son of German immigrants who lived next door. I thought it was kind of a neat idea, but probably just because you got your gifts sooner. For us, Christmas tree usually went up a few weeks before and Christmas Eve was church (all went to the family service at 7; Dad sometimes went to the 11pm communion, usually because he was serving).
 

Luce NDs

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Christmas Eve is nothing as the darkest most mysterious night of a period in time I can remember ... a delinquent time compared to those that claim to know ll ...
 

Mrs.Anteater

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I actually knew that. My best friend when I was little (say until middle school) was the youngest son of German immigrants who lived next door. I thought it was kind of a neat idea, but probably just because you got your gifts sooner. For us, Christmas tree usually went up a few weeks before and Christmas Eve was church (all went to the family service at 7; Dad sometimes went to the 11pm communion, usually because he was serving).
Another great benefit of Christmas eve gift giving is that parents get their sleep!
In Germany, there is actually church services on Christmas day and Boxing day as well. Though, to be honest, boxing day services are usually not very busy. Often it has a lot of music. My son was baptized on Boxing day.
 

Carolla

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I'm starting to feel invisible.
Ahhh- the invisibility of aging - my husband speaks of this sometimes too - but in a more general sense, not specific to family. Sorry you are feeling some loss Waterfall.

Yes - Xmas evolves I think as families also change. When the kids were little, we would gather with nearby family on Xmas eve (Italian tradition) and see my family often on New Year's Day instead of Xmas. Grandparents would drop gifts off before Xmas tho & have a nice visit. We stayed home Xmas day.

We have not had our dtr home for Xmas for about 12 years now. When one works in a resort town, it is 'high season' - no vacation time for any staff. Although the retail stores do close on Xmas day in Whistler - the ONE day of the year that this happens. And we do not go to visit, since she is working, and the cost of all accomodation & flights is astronomicallly higher. But she does INSIST that we have a video call on Xmas eve - to read "Twas the night before Xmas" together - she with her book & I with mine. So sweet, and usually a few gentle loving tears.

We do usually have son & gf with us for some of the time. For a while her family lived distantly, but now they are back again - so we share, which is okay. One year we were alone on Xmas day - so we went out to a movie!

Often we gather with another family - which is reminding me that I need to give a call & see what their plans are ....
 
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