Christmas with big kids sucks.
At least that’s what I’ve heard, and from more than one source.
Sure, the big kids are focused on their own friends and activities, and they generally don’t come flying in on Christmas morning at the crack of dawn to shout their joy over Santa’s visit. We don’t get to see their eyes light up when the reindeers’ carrots are “eaten,” and they don’t worry about our ability to talk to Santa and tell him when they’re naughty.
That kind of magic is past for us, at least unless we have other small children in our lives later on.
To be fair, sometimes, with an adult child, we don’t even get to see them on the holiday at all. This particular year we had a second late Christmas because of work schedules, but last year we sent off a box and received a phone call. So those holidays are unequivocally a little rough.
I could spend my hours bemoaning the lack of this kind of charm and innocence, but I think I’ll share with you what the joy of Christmas can be like when you have big kids, instead.
Our adult daughter was tickled pink that her hotel room had a small kitchen in it. (It even had DISHES!!)
Our still-at-home teenage daughter’s face truly lit up because I bought her a personalized notebook in a style she’d been looking for. It sparkled when she discovered that we had bought her the phone that she had really, really wanted.
We got to see the adult daughter holding hands with her boyfriend and occasionally stealing a kiss.
We got to see the teenage daughter take gifts to her friend’s house, and mints that we had made together because I “needed the help” (I am not above forcing the issue when I want company for a family tradition).
We enjoyed a movie together as a family, because the teenager used her own money to buy her dad a theater gift card that paid for the tickets.
I wrapped some memories for the Big G, in the form of the ornaments we’ve collected just for her over the years. Yes, I cried as I set them aside instead of putting them on the tree. And I almost cried again when she opened them and realized I was helping her set up her own tree, in her own place, as a full adult. But this is a gift that has been many Christmases in the making, and her recognition of that effort and tradition was, in itself, a gift to us.
So, is Christmas with big kids different? Yes. In just about every way, the holiday has changed from what it was when they believed in Santa and haphazardly helped me hang their ornaments every year.
But our Christmas was still magical, still special, and still filled with love. Even as I wistfully think back to bright eyes and excited bounces, I can enjoy the fierce hug of a child who misses home. I can enjoy the burgeoning independence of the child who will soon leave the nest.
I am so very blessed to still be able to enjoy my husband’s arms around me at the end of the day, as we hold tight within the change.