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And then there were Three December 25, 2011

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Christmas, Family, Love.
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It began, as most Christmas mornings have since the boys were older than 8 or 9 years-old, peacefully quiet. As usual, I was the first one up, and the silence was a deafening reminder of this fact.

This particular morning was different though. This morning, for the first time in twenty years, there were three people in the house on Christmas morning, and not four. Now the old question goes: when your son gets married, are you losing a son, or gaining a daughter? As I sat in the stillness of Christmas morning, it didn’t seem like a rhetorical question.

Lost & Found

On Christmast Eve, as we exchanged gifts at my older son’s house, it seemed clear that I had gained a daughter. We had transparently added her to all of our traditions: we now had a stocking for her hanging from the mantle, we had shopped for presents for her with the same sense of joy that had filled us when shopping for the boys, and she now found herself the victim of the friendly razzing that goes on in a close-knit family.

However, the feeling on Christmas morning was more somber. With nobody else awake and stirring around, I was alone with my thoughts, and suddenly acutely aware of the change.

“This is how it begins, I suppose…” I mumbled to myself. Soon enough, everyone would be up, the traditional chocolate-chip pancakes would be cooking, and we would (since Christmas fell on a Sunday this year) get ready for church.

I stopped and thought about this. Since my older son wouldn’t be here to eat his share of the pancakes, there might be some extra for me. Rather than taking joy in this, I felt a twinge that accompanied the thought.

Christmas Passed

Thankfully, the melancholy didn’t last long. As I sat, I suddenly remembered a similar morning 28 years ago: my first Christmas morning away from Mom & Dad, celebrating it instead with my wife of (at that time) six months.

Suddenly, the melancholy was replaced with an onslaught of memories of the intervening years, and how traditions began in our house to replace and supplant the ones I’d shared with my parents. In a few years, my younger son would be following suit, celebrating Christmas in his home, and not mine.

Sooner than I’m probably prepared for, both of the boys may be blessed with children. If so, then the traditions they forge with their families will become something precious for them to enjoy, though for a shorter time than they expect, and then someday look back on as I do now.

If only they can be so lucky.

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