The New Rules

It has been almost a  year since I put up my first post after waffling about putting up a tree for the holidays, deciding to do it, ending up getting into it in a deep way which had nothing to do with the tree, doing a little reflecting about it…… and then feeling tremendously moved to write in order to purge the resulting emotional fallout.  Since that time, Daeja’s View has been a journey of self-exploration and sharing which I hope has been enjoyed by a few of you.

Our configuration of family has changed a bit.  Daughter #1 is now a married mother who lives out-of-state.  The addition of Grandbaby who naturally claims the position of “Center Of The Universe” by mere arrival has shifted the focus for all of us. Daughter #2 is attending college full-time, working, and not living at home either.  It’s just me and the S.O. now, and he’s not very much into making merry over holidays but sort of reluctantly herded into whatever social events and obligations may arise.    It seems the more people who join into the mix, the more it impacts the holiday plans. It used to be that I had to share the rotation of Thanksgiving with The Ex-Husband, which I have never been totally thrilled about.  Now it means sharing the holiday rotation with The Ex-Husband and The Mother-In-Law of Daughter #1.   With this arrangement,  the kids only comes home to celebrate on that day every third year……..the only way to avoid this would be if we all end up having Thanksgiving together, which we have agreed would probably be Very Weird Dynamics.  

Daughter #1 recently announced to me that they (she and her husband) have decided to start their own tradition in their own home, and informed me they would Not Be Coming Home for Christmas anymore.  They feel they would like their son to come running out of his own room and see their own tree in their own house on Christmas morning. They invited us there, but they will not be coming here in the future.  They did not come home last year either. It appears that The Rules have changed. 

I totally get it, but it I had mixed feelings about it and was actually surprised at my reaction to the change of venue.  With few exceptions, I am the one who has been making the holidays for decades.   We always had the holidays at Home, that being where ever I might be living at the time.  After they left the nest, the chicks have always come home to roost with me.   This announcement seemed to cause a slight shift in the way I was viewing things.  It made me feel a bit unbalanced.  Breaking with our traditions has created a crankiness in me, which I think really is a cover up for a feeling of loss, that reality being that the beginning of my daughter’s tradition marks the ending of mine.  It is a passing of the baton, a changing of the guard, a set of new rules, an indisputable in-your-face reminder that time has marched on and I have moved another seat further on down towards the end of the log of life, so to speak.

My immediate reaction was one of dismay, which then set off a guilty rebuttal and some tears from Daughter #1.  Behind the dismay though, was the realization that on some level I am kind of tired of being the one doing this.  Running around doing laundry and cleaning and cooking like a maniac with a backache and not being able to sit down and enjoy a conversation with anyone because I am keeping the food coming and the dishes going.   Putting up a tree and then taking it down all by myself after everyone has left.  I am tired.  Just being able to arrive somewhere and “be” might be OK.

I went up in the attic, brought the box of ornaments downstair,  removed their Christmas stockings and gave them to her to hang on her own mantle.   With that, I didn’t see any point in putting up my own tree, the medium size fake one that I ended up buying last year on a sudden whim.  Why bother? Who is going to see it? 

But I did.  I put it up today, reacting to that spur-of-the-moment seasonal urge again.   As I took each ornament out of the box to hang, once again I got lost in the connections each one conjured up of Christmases long ago with loved ones – parents, siblings, children, partners, and old friends.   But this time, I began to make a little pile of some that will not go on the tree.  These will be taken to my special little family in another state, to make their place there and become part of the story.

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7 Responses to The New Rules

  1. Love this story D! A bit sad (how could it not be?), but if life goes as we hope for our children – it is what it should be. I remember what you wrote (I think it was in her baby book?) about your hopes for daughter #1 when she was about your grandsons age – that she would find happiness in her life – and she certainly has – and, quite successfully I might add!

    I’m so glad you put up your tree – probably even more important to do it now – for yourself and S.O. to enjoy. We – as mothers spend so much of our energies on our children and it seems like we forget along the way to be good mothers to ourselves. Passing on our traditions is part of the job – and sometimes it is done with a certain reluctance – but it doesn’t mean that we can’t create new ones for ourselves too! oxo

    • daeja's view says:

      I like the idea of starting new traditions for ourselves! It is sometimes easier to look back rather than forward…… I actually did start a new tradition for myself a number of years ago – The Birthday Week. I will write about that in the Spring…..

  2. kerri wallace says:

    I so understand and relate to your journey here, and I am happy to be a witness to when Grace shows up and helps you to turn your ending into a new beginning with the ‘handing down of ornaments’. Diving into the current of change.(whether via a swam dive, a push, or a cannon ball splash!) keeps us flexible, included (!), and happy (someone please remind me about this as needed please!). Thanks for sharing your inner map- it so helps me learn better how to navigate my own map. ❤ k

  3. annieb says:

    I enjoyed the light snowfall as I read your post – it made me want to snuggle up in a quilt while I read it.

  4. rachelle says:

    My solution, a few years ago, was to get a small potted norfolk pine which is a living plant all year. it has gotten bigger, along with my granddaughter, and we decorate it with a few more ornaments every year. the birds stay in the tree all year and it gets decorated for all seasons. the best part is that i never have to take it down.

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