My College:
Family Life

A Merry and Melancholy Christmas

Elizabeth Spencer


Holidays with our big kids can be hard because a lot of the time, we AREN’T with our big kids during the holidays. They’re on campus or on the job or on the road or on their phones.

My own big kids are “on” all of these at various points these days. Which is why the tradition of putting the ornaments on our Christmas tree is flipping this year.

Instead of my girls putting most of the ornaments on and saving a few favorites for their dad and me to hang, I’ll put most of them on by myself and save a few of my girls’ favorite baubles and figurines for them to hang when they go from being “on” campus and “on” the job to being “on” Christmas vacation.

I expect this will make me feel merry and melancholy, both at the same time. Merry with hope for time and traditions to come, melancholy for what I’m already missing.

This is how it is, parenting big kids. We live in two worlds: much to be grateful for, much to be longing for. Much to have, but much to want. We’ve got one foot in either place, and the trick is to find and keep our balance.

So while I put most of the ornaments on the tree, I’ll try to be grateful for the Christmases past our family has had together. I’ll try to be hopeful about Christmases yet-to-be we might still have together.

But mostly, I’ll try to be mindful that this Christmas — Christmas present — is the Christmas we do have together, and no matter how messily it might be wrapped, it is a gift.

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection and brutally honest fashion advice. She’s been married for 26 years to an exceedingly patient guy she picked up in church. Elizabeth writes about faith, food and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and on Facebook and Twitter, and is the author of Known By His Names: A 365-Day Journey From The Beginning to The Amen.

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