Being slightly OCD--OK----MORE than just slightly--I made a list of the things that need to be thought about when it comes to the holidays.  The TOP of the list--of course---"Where am I celebrating?"  Remember---THIS IS HIGHLY PERSONAL--you have to figure out what is going to work for you.  I will tell you my experiences--take it--think about it---decide what works for you.

When my first grandchild came along, I decided it was important that he and his family establish their own Christmas and holiday traditions.  My memory is full of Christmases of trying to see two sides of family AND squeezing in my own family's celebration--it became a nightmare of exhausted, over-gifted, over-whelmed-whiny kids and perhaps I might have also whined a tad.  Thanksgiving was not as stressful as Christmas--but it was always a balancing act of trying to go and stay and see them all. Something tells me this is NOT what it is all about!

Before I began my Alone Holiday Experience, one of the last Thanksgivings spent as a couple was spent on a holiday trip.    Perhaps under the right circumstances, and for the correct reasons--this might be a good plan.  Do you know someone else facing the holidays alone?  Plan a short fun trip--skiing--to the beach--something quite out of the ordinary.  I must warn you-that the absence of family can feel like a huge void and we ARE creatures of habit---BUT this can also be a great change AND fun.  If you chose this route, remember--it is going to feel different--different is not always bad!  One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories is being in Belize on a island---and eating fresh seafood until I thought I would grow gills.  Sandy beaches--gentle ocean breezes--long days of snorkeling--sun filled days--good company of friends--DID NOT miss the traditional Thanksgiving that year!  Was also SO disappointed when the hotel staff tried cooking the traditional turkey dinner---would have preferred fresh seafood!

My own holiday experiences usually occur at one of my children's homes-  someday they have to take the mantle--mine just took it earlier.  Not having the space nor kitchen facilities to feed a crowd--it just evolved into this. ALSO they have families and should be in their homes with their families. I loved the days of everyone coming home--feeding the entire crowd--but life has moved forward and so must I.

For more than 30 years we had Thanksgiving with our dear friends The Thompson's---alternating homes each year.  I cherish those sweet memories--of cooking together--being together--enjoying the good company.  Our families have grown up and have families of their own.  It is REALLY complicated to think about this happening every year at this point-  perhaps a year here or there--but not every year.  So with my change of status and move--this became increasingly impossible.  Time for a change.

This year I will be sharing Thanksgiving with #1 daughter's sweet in-laws---What a blessing!  Christmas will be different--I will be in FW until just after Christmas day and then go to Austin with #1 daughter and little grands in tow.  The day we are together is not as important as being together--keep that in mind--be flexible.  My plans are always subject to change since my children have another parent to include in their celebrating---but I am open to being flexible and sharing the blessing of family.

I have also considered serving dinner to those who have so little at one of the local missions.  Now THAT will put into perspective how blessed we all are.  Any time I serve those who are so less fortunate, I am the one that receives the greatest blessing.  Their thanks and sweet spirits always humble and grow me.

LOTS OF WORDS--bottom line---think about where works best for you and your family.  It is perfectly fine to stray from the normal--BUT if tradition works for you that is right also.  Start thinking about your new normal--and what works for you and your family now.  Be prepared for different--and embrace the joy of the present.

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name."
Psalm 100:4

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