Has Christmas Changed Since The Children Have Left Home?

Waterfall

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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 ....
Thanks Carolla this thread is making me realize my expectations need to change and things can still be good.
 

Lastpointe

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It is definitely a changing holiday. I think back to being newly married, working shifts, living in a different city. That was different for me and my parents
As we all had kids my parents stopped hosting and started rotating visits to our homes
There were years when it was way too stressful with my in laws. So we travelled at Christmas. Ski trips. Three years in a row. Something both my husband and I regret now looking back. I mean , would it have been so terrible to cope with his annoying father? At the time we thought yes
Then the years after deaths of parents. Back to our little family. And the wonderful traditions we established

And now we are adding children’s partners. It adds complexity. Who to visit when? What to add or drop from our traditions? Is it our year or the in laws year.........

But at the same time, for me I have realized I can let go of those traditions. Do I care if Turkey is the 25th th or26th

Can I open gifts at a different time?

Being available. Being flexible. Not putting all the emphasis on one particular calendar day. It helps
 

Luce NDs

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Yet turkeys demand consistency and then do their best to alter the time ... and everyone should have a turkey in their pot! Boiled, fryed or well deep frittered! Use caution so as not to burn the deck down ... deck the awls ... and Jay Zus bore Din ...

Tis all in the word and how applied ...

Reubens assist ... perhaps Goghs ... and cropped ears ...
 
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Christmas has been different for me every year for several years now. In 2015 I spent Christmas Eve and day entirely alone, and went to the open late supermarket. The year before that I spent it back and forth from the hospital...we were struggling financially the months prior to Christmas, and then my husband got pneumonia. I ate hospital turkey dinner - he couldn’t even eat his, as I recall, he was so sick of hospital food. Some are good years, some are horrible. I try to be in the moment, be realistic, and not have big expectations in the years where Christmas isn’t shaping up to be much fun and I’m feeling down. And sometimes it just isn’t good, it just sucks and then eventually winter ends...and sometimes something good and unexpected (not talking about material stuff) comes out of it.

The things I can count on enjoying....lights, music, chocolate, eggnog, mandarin oranges...but not necessarily people every year - sometimes working out Christmas plans and expectations with people, including family, is utterly unenjoyable (being honest) so, I enjoy the atmosphere every year at least a little bit...stop and admire pretty decorations, etc. and not get too deeply invested in expecting it to be a certain way.

What are some things you can count on enjoying? Focus on those and let go of expectations you can’t count on...would be my advice from experience.
 
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ChemGal

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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?
In general, I would say many of my generation like the idea of spending it with extended family, but keeping it from being overwhelming, especially for the kids.
Kids want to play with their new toys, not being whisked from one house to the next.
I think many Boomers went to the effort of making it perfect - tons of gifts, big dinner, etc. as they often had money that their parents did not.

My sister is always saying 1 toy each per kid - but you know stocking stuffers don't count according to my Mom and there's lots of those.
I hope to see my nephew's on the 24/25th, not sure yet if we will. My brother in law in general doesn't like being around many people, so I know he would rather it just be the 4 of them. If we do go, I think we still might do gifts in/around the 6th or 7th of Jan for them because lots of gifts & more sugar than normal & more people than normal all just increase the risk of meltdowns. Might change as they get older, but for now I like having our own little special day with them as long as we can meet around then.
 
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Another thing that helps is, instead of spending money on a lot of little extra superfluous outings and purchases...giving to charity. I had an ok Christmas last year, I think...but I wanted to do more for charity...I was in the mall and “Santas Anonymous” had a booth collecting toys for kids...so I went shopping and spent, I don’t remember...$20-30 shopping for toys in Canadian Tire (you can get quite a few things for that, that kids would like). I never had kids - something I sometimes feel sad about at Christmas - and it was fun to think about what kids might want and picking things out...there were Santa list recommendations at the booth, too. It felt good to do that...for better or worse, Christmas seems to be about the kid in all of us.

I’m going to be part of a group of “elves” making hampers this year. I did it two years ago, too. They were really nice hampers...with decorations and gourmet treats, too!
 
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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?
No. I hear you.
 

Nancy

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This is our Christmas: My husband's family is out of town, and they host a big get-together about two weeks before Christmas. We have never gone. Travel weather is iffy; I often do church services or work at the shoe store on weekends, and my niece's birthday is usually being celebrated around then. My husband is a little sad about this.

My family (two sisters, one mom, three kids and their partners and kids) all get together for parts of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. We eat, drink, play games, open gifts, go to church (some of us), laugh and visit. It's quite a flurry of activity. I tried to change one part of the tradition this year but it didn't go over. My sister has a big basement that has a table that can seat 24 people at least. We each bring part of the meal, and help set up and clean up. It's always a lot of fun. But it ends up being too much work for my sister, who is scheduled to have knee replacements. So, this year, I thought that I would have a smaller version supper at our place for my family which would be 10 of us. Then...we could all get together for dessert. Somehow, that didn't go over. So, we are back to the big bash at my sister's place. She was really sad if we didn't continue the big bash tradition. And my kids love being with their aunt and uncle.

All I can say is...after Christmas I really appreciate my alone-time! But I also recognize and cherish how nice it is to be one of three sisters who live close and get along well. (I have a brother who is estranged from the family, but that is another story for another time).
 

Carolla

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Another thing that helps is, instead of spending money on a lot of little extra superfluous outings and purchases...giving to charity.
I've been doing this too for the past few years - giving directly to a charity or sometimes through the United Church's Gifts with Vision which I really like. Gifts with Vision | A Giving Catalogue from the United Church They have a diverse range of projects & I feel assured the money is being well used. This year on Giving Tuesday I also noticed that Canada Helps has a Holiday Gift Card - so you purchase the amount & then the person you gift it to will select which charity receives the gift - that could certainly make for some interesting discussions!
 

Luce NDs

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Suggests to me the essence or spirit of grace that torments those accustomed to grabbing alone! Embrace gentilly with lace ... thus those Moorish folk ...
 
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The supermarket Christmas was actually an interesting experience. You realize that for countless others, Christmas is just another day - but an annoying one whereby this is the only grocery store open in the city, other than convenience stores - and most of the people you see don't celebrate (or celebrate the same as I grew up with) Christmas in their cultures and/ or religions - and they're in a regular mood, smiling, saying hello. And it's not a big deal to them - then you realize, that it doesn't have to be a big deal right now, either. This is a variation of normal. It helped me though - I appreciate that experience.
 
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Luce NDs

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Experiences can be wild things ... not admitted to those that don't believe what you experienced!
 

Greywolf336

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I must say I would be really sad to not do presents, not so much because I want them (though I do appreciate receiving) but more because I REALLY enjoy giving gifts. I have lists in my phone of ideas for people and I add go it year round. It’s not unusual for me to pick up a stocking stuffer or even Christmas gift in February or July!

when my bf and I moved in together we had to figure out what worked for us and both of our families. Luckily, both live within half an hour of our house so that makes it easier. The current tradition has turned into brunch at my parents as they have always hosted brunch for our extended family, home to unwrap gifts and give by bf time to recover and then dinner with his family. I know my parents miss having me there for dinner and I miss it too, we always had roast beef not turkey so I don’t get my traditional Christmas dinner. But, since my bf’s family doesn’t do brunch we can’t switch it around and at least this way we get to see both families.
 

Waterfall

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But, since my bf’s family doesn’t do brunch we can’t switch it around and at least this way we get to see both families.
I think this is a problem around Christmases, there is always the ones who won't change to accommodate others on a rotating basis.
My daughters' in laws have a grandsons birthday on the 24th, and make it a point to celebrate his birthday as a separate occasion from Christmas....which is good IMO....BUT therefore they always claim the actual Christmas Day as their "right" to not have to change to Boxing Day every other year. So we are now "fit in" somewhere, sometimes Boxing day, sometimes several days later (when it already feels Christmas has passed) This has been going on for 10 years (since they married)
When I finally speak up, I'm met with, "You should just appreciate that I'm trying to fit you in".
I didn't rock the boat for 10 years......so rather than push for change, I will just be gracious once more.
 

Mendalla

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I must say I would be really sad to not do presents, not so much because I want them (though I do appreciate receiving) but more because I REALLY enjoy giving gifts. I have lists in my phone of ideas for people and I add go it year round. It’s not unusual for me to pick up a stocking stuffer or even Christmas gift in February or July!
I don't miss it. It became a hassle. Even within our little immediate family, we skip Christmas gifts and just treat our annual holiday vacation as a family gift to ourselves. The Chinese just give "red packets", envelopes of money, to children at the Lunar New Year so Mrs. M was always a bit taken aback by our gift-giving tradition. Of course, they probably do it by e-transfer or WePay or something these days (ebanking is even more evolved there than here).
 

Waterfall

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For me it's not so much the gift giving but the meal that offers a sharing of togetherness.....it's why I prefer the Thanksgiving tradition that focus's on gathering with friends and family and not on presents. I take pleasure in seeing multiple generations interacting in what ever way happens....the good, the bad, the ugly.....it's real, it's open, it's eye opening! Sometimes needed after the year of a sterile hiatus from one another.
I love watching the joy of young children that reminds me to be amazed at Christmas!
 

Carolla

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I was reading Ed Keenan's column in the Star today - he is from a very large extended family that has over time evolved their Xmas celebration. For a few years now they gather for "Family Shopping Day". The family 'adopts' another family (many organizations arrange this sort of thing) so they gather together, learn about their Xmas family, divide up shopping tasks and all head out to select gifts. Then they return to the home where they gathered, show & wrap all the gifts, and then enjoy a meal together. Some of the family members later deliver the gift donation to the organization that supplied the info. Seems like the best of both worlds.
 
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