Faith and Family: Holidays—and Life—in Transition

woman holding candle

For years, holidays in our house always looked the same. For Thanksgiving, we would gather around the table at my parents’ house for a traditional dinner. Dessert and more family togetherness followed with my husband, Mark’s, family. 

Christmas looked much the same with us balancing time between families, while also taking the time to honor our own little family. 

On Christmas morning, the kids would rush down the stairs while Mark recorded them and their expressions. We would then spend the next hour or so watching the kids tear into their gifts, capturing on film every single moment of excitement. 

Inevitable Changes

Yeah, holidays always looked the same. That is until, suddenly, they didn’t. My parents passed away, kids moved out, and my siblings started to establish their own traditions with their children. Suddenly, we weren’t all together on Thanksgiving and Christmas the way we always had been. The holiday season was completely upended, leaving us all to find a new way to honor it. 

For example, last year we had pizza for Thanksgiving dinner when we visited our daughter Maddie in Florida. It reminded me of the time when she was sick at Thanksgiving and we couldn’t join the family celebrations. She and I shared an untraditional Peanuts-inspired Thanksgiving dinner of toast, popcorn, pretzel sticks, and jelly beans. I hope that holiday memory is ingrained in her memory the way it is in mine. 

The kids exchanged Christmas presents at that November gathering, knowing that we wouldn’t all be together again the following month. In-person celebrations have been replaced with FaceTime calls, text messages, and shared photos in an attempt to erase the distance. 

Even presents have transitioned from Lego sets and board games to more practical ones, such as gift cards. 

Learning to Adapt

As a parent, I have learned over and over that as time marches on, things change. They have to. It’s just the way things go. That’s certainly not to say that I haven’t cried my way through milestones and moves away from home. 

Maddie and her husband welcomed my first grandchild earlier this year. My son is in Arizona at school. We’ll see if he can make it back for Christmas. The other two are still at home, but they have their own schedules. 

But I have also learned that sometimes the best memories are made when we learn to adapt to the situation, just like that Thanksgiving with Maddie so many years ago. Those are where the memories are made that sustain us over time and through changes. 

This Thanksgiving, by the grace of God, we are all able to gather together. It won’t be at our home, and it certainly won’t be like it used to, but it will be pretty close because we’ll be together. In the end, whether it be in person, over FaceTime, or even just a phone call, that’s all that matters, isn’t it? Because no matter what, our connection is never broken. 

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