“We are going to stay in Virginia for Christmas this year,” my sister said to me. The conversation continued, but I couldn’t really focus on anything else that was said.
“You guys aren’t going to come to Mom and Dad’s?” I asked, as if I needed her to clarify her statement.
“We’re planning to come into town either the week before or the week after Christmas; we’ll see you either way.”
I didn’t know what to say to her. Our entire family had always celebrated Christmas together. Did she not care to be a part of that? What about all of our family traditions?
I knew that I couldn’t be angry with her. I knew that this is a normal part of life, but I didn’t expect this kind of change so soon. She explained to me that she and her husband desired to begin their own family traditions and create memories with their daughter in their own home. She wasn’t making her decision out of selfishness or insensitivity to the rest of our family, but she was doing what she thought was best for her marriage and family.
It took me a long time and several lengthy conversations with my sister to accept and eventually appreciate her decision not to celebrate Christmas with us. Although it’s not exactly the same as having them here with us present to us, our separation has actually strengthened our relationship. Instead of taking for granted the time that we do spend with one another, every visit or phone call seems to elicit excitement and great conversation.
The family dynamics are constantly changing as my brothers and sisters and I are getting older and people are dating and marrying. However, change can be really good. I’ve learned that if I accept each person’s way of making the holidays special for their family, traditions grow just like our love for each other.