The kids are all gone, out of the house, for the very first Christmas. You have anticipated for a few months now the fact they won’t be there to eat the traditional foods, open presents, sing carols, gather around the table, play games, frolic in the snow, etc. Are you on your way to the Kleenex box?
Having shared what I hope were some encouraging and helpful thoughts about releasing your adult children from holiday expectations in a recent post, the question was posed, “Do you have suggestions for empty nesters?”
Be Revived! Renew your commitment that every Christmas is first and foremost about the Lord Jesus Christ. Check out this blog post: Tis the Season to Be . . .
Don’t Go There! Refrain from doing what you did when the kids were home. Instead of letting those traditions create sorrow in your heart and longing for what you had, start your own set of traditions with your spouse. Remember, your marriage is more important than your children. You didn’t marry your kids, you married your spouse. Rekindle the love and fun that you had in your early dating days/months.
Change It Up!
- Invite another empty nester couple to spend Christmas Eve and/or Day in your home. Play games, enjoy good food, and focus on what you have, rather than who’s not there!
- Go to a local care facility and sing Christmas carols to those who don’t have family or visitors.
- Intentionally let your spouse know that they make Christmas special (not just the children).
- Prepare Christmas goodie bags and deliver them to the folks in the ICU waiting room at the local hospital.
- Don’t lower your Christmas standards. Just because the kids aren’t coming home for Christmas, make sure you still decorate (Hubs, help your wife decorate and prepare the meal. She may feel all alone without the kids around). Be sure to set the table and have a special meal (perhaps fix something out of the ordinary).
- Cozy up your bedroom with Christmas decorations, and if you feel so led, go ahead and buy those Christmas pjs!!
- Spend Christmas day out of town at some romantic hotel or cabin. Make your own Hallmark movie . . . just the two of you!! (A good move for first-time empty nesters!)
Exemplify Joy! Your children will be watching you from a distance. They will have a deeper sense of security about mom and dad being alone if they know you both are enjoying the season and one another, even though you might shed a tear or two. True joy comes from Christ and focusing on Him rather than yourself.
My wife and I love having the kids home for Christmas and have encouraged them to switch back and forth between us and in-laws for the holidays. When the grandchildren enter the world, our kids need the freedom to have their own holiday traditions and family time. The point is this: Denise and I will and have been fine . . . just the two of us. That’s God’s grace and a commitment to love one another first as brother and sister in Christ and then as husband and wife.