Home for The Holidays

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holiday table setting

Traditions run deep in my veins. I yearn for those sweet sweet memories I experienced as a child that have continued to thrive into adulthood.

My Grandma Barb’s delicious sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner…

Homemade meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy on Christmas Eve before we all go to church as a family…

Egg bake on Christmas morning with almost every single one of my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents…

Sunrise service on Easter Sunday…

Participating in the Memorial Day service at our local cemetery…

The neighborhood picnic on the 4th of July that started mid morning and ended after fireworks late that night…

Can you tell traditions are important to me? These are all things my family did (I only included a few…yikes!) every single year as I grew up. I dreamed of one day sharing these memories with my own husband and children.

2010 was the year my traditions were shaken. I started dating this (incredibly kind, gentle, loving, handsome… get the point?!) nurse. I knew after just a few dates he was the one I was going to marry. However, I didn’t look beyond the wedding to realize what that would mean for those beloved traditions.

The first year he worked Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was our son Charlie’s first Christmas. He missed egg bake that year. He didn’t help me unwrap the INSANE amount of gifts my aunts, uncles and cousins threw at Charlie. He wasn’t there to help me feed Charlie his meal, so I could get a few bites in. He wasn’t there as I made a mad dash for home with a screaming baby who was overdue for a nap. He wasn’t there when I spent the rest of my Christmas afternoon crying in front of the tv as my sweet boy napped in his crib.

It was that first year that  I realized my holidays were all going to be different from here on out. Whether I liked it or not, I was going to need to accept this and figure out how to continue to cherish the holidays that have meant so much to me.

My mom and dad have been instrumental in helping me overcome this internal battle. From day one, they insisted on celebrating our holidays when the ENTIRE family was present. This means we may celebrate Thanksgiving on a Saturday or Christmas on New Year’s Day. Or, we may even wait to open gifts until a few weeks after Christmas because someone (me, it was me) thought she should go into labor on Christmas Day while 29 weeks pregnant…

My brother and sister in law have also openly embraced this change in holiday traditions, and for this, I am forever grateful. We still get my meatballs and mashed potatoes for Christmas, and Grandma’s sweet potatoes are consumed every year.

There are traditions that cannot be changed due to work schedules, but over the years, I’ve learned to ask for help with my three kiddos when I’m solo parenting at functions. I’ve learned to say no to things that will add more stress and less joy to our holiday time, and I’ve also learned to stop resenting those who refuse to or are unable to change their plans because of his work schedule.

The most important lesson I’ve learned in all of this is that my husband, and SO many others, are working holidays to keep us healthy, safe, fed…and the list goes on. He is doing important work. So I change my plans a bit..in the big scheme of things, that is nothing compared to the work he is doing.

My kids are able to see their dad serving others first before satisfying his wants and our desires. And really, that is what we want them to do in their lives.