Sunday, November 22, 2009

Merry Thanksgiving

St. Nick candles sit sandwiched on one bookcase shelf. Directly above is the still-fresh Halloween/Thanksgiving pumpkin nestled in the spray of bittersweet. This is the earliest we’ve ever decorated for Christmas, unless you count the year Erik, our older son, was about three. The apartment-sized tree never went down that year, just kept being redecorated for Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc.

Over time, the mantle of being in charge of the tree has passed from older brother to younger. It was a tradition for years that the minute the pumpkin pie was eaten, out came the Christmas boxes. Our long-time friend, Jean, who joined us every year for Thanksgiving dinner was more than happy to assist…instead of looking askance at the breakneck speed with which the next holiday was ushered in.

Times change. Since we moved from West Virginia to the prairie, Jean is more than 1,100 miles away. Erik is a continent away. My husband, younger son and I had planned to spend Christmas in London to meet up with Erik, who would travel from Rostock, Germany.  However, Erik decided earlier this fall to do study abroad for a semester not a year, so we’re staying home. Works out well. Husband will be in the throes of page proofs for his writing deadline; Mom and I have a January deadline, so it’s nice to have the extra editing time.

On the shortest day of the year, Erik turns 19. This will actually be the third time he’s been away from home for Christmas. When he went to Germany the first time as a high school foreign exchange student his junior year, some people were shocked he wouldn’t be home for Christmas.

It wasn’t the first time.

When he was a freshman in high school a friend’s family took their sons, Erik and another boy to Disney World over the holidays. It was a lovely gift. Sure we missed Erik, but it wasn’t about us.

His younger brother jokes that next year will be an ‘on’ year for Erik being home for the holidays if the pattern continues.

Just because I am good at letting go doesn’t mean it’s not bittersweet. Understanding fully that children growing up is the ultimate wonderful goal doesn’t mean I’m immune to missing them intensely when they’re not around.

So if I had a child who wanted to put up the Christmas tree on the Fourth of July, I’d be draggin’ out the boxes myself. The joy of the season is with us year-round, and the time we get to keep our babies is short indeed.

Embrace it all, and if you’re the first house on the block with tinsel…so be it.


  1. I think it's so nice that you have a teenager who still wants to do something, anything with his family. That is definitely something you want to hold on to as long as you've got it.

  2. I was thinking today that when our oldest goes off to school next fall it'll be one less mess to clean up. Still, I know I'll miss her desperately:(