This year, my ex asked to have the boys for dinner on the first night. Even though it wasn't his usual night, he promised to have them home for bedtime. It took a moment to register but I realized that I was no longer a necessary part of this holiday. He is now ready to take on this tradition on his own.
I'm feeling a little wistful this year because I fear that it may be the last Christmas that we have a true believer in our family. Our youngest child is 9 and in the fourth grade. I was a year younger when I found out that there was no such thing as Santa. Or as I remember it, the day I took my first step into adulthood.
As we age, there's a tendency to let go of some of the traditions that have always been part of our holidays. They often seem like a lot more work than we're willing to do, and since many of us now spend our holidays at our children's homes, allowing them to start their own traditions, why bother? Looking back at past holidays, we often wonder how we were able to do it all.
Every year before Christmas, I spend hours stringing popcorn and cranberries with the goal of producing three long strands to drape around our Christmas tree. I do it every single year without fail even though my kids no longer relish the idea of pricked fingers or too-crumbly popcorn. Why do I do it? Because my mother always did it -- and her mother as well.