This year we celebrated some new family traditions, since our lives have shifted greatly from this time last year. My parents have sold their home, and now live in a one-bedroom condo-style apartment on Main Street in downtown Dublin, Georgia. Their only spare bed is the couch, so it wasn't a suitable destination for our Christmas this year. Carl is a freshman at UGA, so he is the resident couch-surfer when he visits them from school in Athens. Neil, this year, is stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and didn't take the coveted Christmas-holiday leave (but we did get to see him in October). And different from last year, Paul is no longer in the Navy, and we share an apartment now, in Atlanta. So, we hosted. It has been a wonderful few years of transition, and I am so glad that as my parents have finally sent all of children out into the adult world, they have chosen to change up the purpose and design of their lives post-children. If last Christmas taught them anything, it was that waiting around for their children to dominate their home during those few days of the year that we might come home for a holiday is not worth keeping the whole house, doing the whole hosting thing. There is another chapter in their lives yet, and an important one; they are embracing it with a missions program they are now actively fundraising for--through Greater Europe Missions. They are continuing to downsize even more, and will leave for Rome, when they have enough initial money raised.
They know, as their children know as well, that this does not mean our family's traditions are ending, just reshaping. We have never been a family overly attached to a place, or particular home or other thing to define our traditions, and our holidays. We have always made them meaningful instead with each other, by being together and enjoying wherever we happened to be that year. After moving to Georgia, some years we spent visiting back there, but many more we have spent as the six of us, and they have been equally magical. This year, with us each and all as adults, our lives have shifted more towards the new version of us: where we, the children, are now the hosts. As it should be. I'm happy to bake cookies, put up with the mess, decorate the tree, and continue our traditions now that my parents have shifted their own life goals. It's the least I can do to take on the holiday hosting after the many, magical Christmases they have given me (and us). It's actually exciting. It's our turn. And as the years continue, we'll be changing it up even more. We'll add spouses, eventually (far in the future) children, and a lot of different locations to the mix, to our family. Next year could be Christmas in Italy, if Mom and Dad can get their fundraising goal met this year (which they hope to).
It's exciting to imagine how Christmas traditions will follow us, and change, in these next, adult years. We're off to a great start with this one. Friday and Saturday, December 23 and 24, were spent in Atlanta, lovely.
If you would like to donate to my parent's mission, you can go to this site, and select their names (Edens, Mark and Valerie) in the donation recipients drop-down menu. My Dad's blog on their journey and mission is here.