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
*You might also enjoy these holiday light shows in Southern California. This post is also part of #WeekendWanderlust
You are so right, I found myself more or less in points 1 to 5. Hope you had a fantastic Christmas and will have a great new year.
Thanks, Vlad, Hope you have many outrageously fun travels in 2015.
I don’t fit into any of the ones mentioned. Mine would sound something like this – living half way around the world and experiencing a whole different kind of Christmas with my closest friends and in-laws who have become my family away from home and creating my own set of customs and traditions!
Merry Christmas from Taiwan!
Thanks for that perspective. I had inserted a note in the first paragraph that this was an ‘admittedly North American perspective.’ When I lived in Alaska for 6 years there were many holidays just like you describe and they were some of my most cherished. Happy New Year.
Every good wish for the holidays as they are now, Elaine! What a creative post~
Thanks, Irene. I hope your holidays have been perfect wherever you are.
A lot of this can be applied to life in general.
I like that idea. Thanks, Brianna.
That was a very accurate timeline except I never took over the traditions after my parents died. My sister and I decided to basically not do much at all for Christmas and to spend it on Marco Island in Florida (where I now live year-round and she’s a snow bird). I was always the single one who had to fly “home” for Christmas and my sister raised 4 boys and had plenty of buying, wrapping and seeing gifts be broken! We love our quiet get-togethers with some of the “boys” and dinner at a restaurant. No angst, just quiet fun. A treat earned over many years!
Kay, sounds like what you and your sister created for the holidays is perfect – calm, fun and hanging out with the ‘boys’ while someone else does all the cooking and cleaning. I’ll get there yet!
All very true but none more so than the the quote on the blackboard about getting older and lists becoming shorter. Christmas is still a fun time of year and I enjoy it but one of the things I like most is the reduction of pressure to buy gifts for everyone I know or expect gifts from the same. I am happy in their company.
Thanks, Tim. I’m with you. It’s great to be off the treadmill of feeling like you have to get presents for everyone. Being together is truly the best gift.
What about the “I live in another country so I can’t come home” stage? Oh… that’s not a thing? Okay… hahaha
Dear Richelle, I thought about your predicament when I did the list and considered being away from home for the holidays as part of not being able to come home. It is definitely a thing and might’ve been a good idea – I’d have had a neat ten! Hope you can make it home another time.
Great post, you nailed it! Love the quote too.
Thanks for the kinds words. Happy holidays.
Elaine – this was such a thoughtful and poignant point of view. The holidays are challenging as well as joyous.
Thanks, Suzanne, guess the holidays are also a time for nostalgia and knowing it’s always going to be changing. Wishing you all the best of the season.
I recognize all of your nine stages (been there, done that!) and I love your quote at the end of your post about Christmas lists getting shorter as we age. The older we get the more we cherish our time, our health and the people we love.
Thanks for the thoughtful and kind words. Happy holidays, Anita.
We’ve had big changes in the past few years but so looking forward to having my son and daughter-in-law visit for 5 nights. Have a Merry Christmas wherever you are this year.
Sounds like you’re in for a stellar holiday. Merry Christmas to you too.
So, so true. Different stages at different ages. I’m old enough now to have experienced them all, some simultaneously. Merry Christmas!
Thanks, Betsy. Guess I’m there too! Merry Christmas indeed.
What an interesting timeline and yes, it is all so shorter at the tail end but hopefully filled with many more surprises for the holiday season!
Thank, Noel. Guess the holidays have me a bit nostalgic.