By eight o’clock this morning the house was empty. My adult children had departed to visit friends, and my husband had left for work. Coffee, which my husband and I don’t drink, scented the air from the haphazard breakfast I threw together as the human migration began. The silence seemed unfamiliar as I started straightening the remnants of our family Christmas. I tackled the kitchen first for that gives me a sense of accomplishment. The pile of dishes reminded me of earlier days when the kids were young and home every day. Funny how a person can miss what once seemed mundane.
Then I go into the living room and smile at the mess. Christmas tree needles cover the floor and carpet. How can it be so messy? Then I see Pudgy batting at lower branches and find my enlightenment. She breaks off a tiny branch and chases it around the room. More needles join the already deceased. I stack the tattered gift boxes for recycling and smoosh the remaining bits of wrapping paper into a bag. It was a good Christmas. My family gathered, laughed, ate, and told the stories that get told every year. Another Christmas is over and a new year is soon to come. The vacuum whirs over the popping needles and I feel fulfilled and blessed. It was the best part of my day.
It’s so interesting how Christmas changes with adult children. My Christmases when the kids were young are filled with memories of intense joy–the opening of presents and then the dash to their rooms to play before the deluge of relatives. I hurried back to the kitchen to prepare a multi-course dinner for 30 people. The passing of Christmas always brought a sigh of contentment and then exhaustion and relief.
Now, we savor it. Being together, planning, making, and eating our meals is more than enough. Presents are opened slowly, discussed, shared, and then we all sit together reading new books, sharing new thoughts, and eating the food we all planned and made together. The contentment is part of the celebration and permeates every moment of Christmas.
Which is better? I love them all!