However you celebrate the end of the year, the season beckons us close to our families and families of friends. Whether you’re spending it at home or traveling, I hope you enjoy these glimpses of the nine ages many of us go through in a holiday timeline (an admittedly North American perspective.)
A holiday timeline
1. Kid Stuff – Christmas seems to be a time when Mom gets real tired from cooking and shopping and cleaning for company. Neither Mom nor Dad goes to work for the day. You wake up before everyone to shake presents under the tree. The house fills up with delicious smells, aunts and uncles materialize, cousins run amok. Everyone eats a lot.
2. School Days – You’re assigned a place in the Holiday Pageant. You might be dressed as an elf and really hope you’re not one of the farm animals. The best part is getting out of school for a few weeks.
3. College – There’s a rush to get assignments in and finals conquered. Football fever takes hold. With any luck you’ll join the family for a few days over the break and catch up with old pals.
4. Home Alone -The holidays become a tug-of-war about going home for just a few days, spending it solo or working overtime to pad the budget. You spend Christmas eve toasting in a bar or prepping the assigned dish to take to a friend’s house and sit down with a gaggle of new pals.
5. Vacation – You opt to jet off for a sunny clime and have been planning the get-away for months. Traffic is horrendous, airplanes are crowded, delays become routine and the weather is never predictable. Still the sun feels great and that rum punch on the beach is worth the angst.
6. Struggle – This is the holiday you can’t avoid. Tension is in the air from the moment you come home or open the door to your ‘black sheep’ sibling. It may be the first holiday that you’re single again. You may be mediator or combatant, but feel relieved for moments of communal peace and still quietly happy to see everyone.
7. New family – Once you have your own kids there’s a new appreciation for going home and the challenge becomes which family to spend it with. You start juggling which home to go to each year and look forward to catching up with siblings you rarely see.
8. Homecoming – For the first time you take on a big part of the preparations, helping Mom in the kitchen, raking leaves or shoveling snow with Dad and making decisions about who sits where.
9. Changing the Guard – The holiday is up to you this year. Mom and Dad may be gone or too old to put the big event together. Invitations go out to siblings and friends who are on their own. You feel a sense of accomplishment even when it doesn’t all go as planned as everyone finally sits down together.
Whatever your own holiday timeline looks like, I hope that you create new memories to cherish and thank you for sharing some of mine.
Elaine J. Masters