You know that 12 Days of Christmas thing? It’s real.  Not the part about lords a-leaping and French hens, but the part about it being 12 days long.

The Christmas season lasts from December 25 through Epiphany on January 6- a full 12 days plus! But celebrating the days after January 1 can be weird, even for die hards like me.

I kind of feel like the fan who stays at the game until the buzzer, even though their team is getting blown out.

Or like the last minute shopper who heads to check out minutes before close, after the clerk has already closed out the cash register.

It’s kind of like picking through the leftover turkey carcass after all the best meat has been taken- just hoping to find one more nice chunk of good stuff.

It feels over. I don’t want it to be over, and technically it isn’t, but really it is.

Everybody’s back to work. Schools are in session again. Decorations start coming down. Christmas music makes people wince. You’ve gained 9.5 of the 10 pounds you swore not to add since Thanksgiving.

This year, as things wind down, I find myself a bit more reflective than usual because I think we may be at the end of an era. At least in terms of my family traditions.

Ever since the kids were tiny, we’ve been fortunate to keep the Christmas Day routines we love, knowing that one day things would need to change. Families expand, work schedules change, kids move out of the house, etc…

We’ve been lucky 28 years in a row, despite a few adjustments for Covid, and the schedules of our daughters, who are nurses and church musicians.  And each of the last few years, my wife and I laugh about the inevitable change of routine that has been delayed again.  

But it feels like the tide may have finally turned.  There’s a good chance Christmas morning will be just my wife and I next year.  We may end up doing family Christmas gatherings at unusual times in order to incorporate the (as yet unofficial) son-in-laws and their family schedules.  Each scheduling move has a ripple effect across many other families, siblings, nephews, grandparents…. We may need a professional administrative assistant to work things out.

If I sound like a whiner, I am. I’m a lover of both family tradition and Christmas and honestly would prefer things stay the way they have been for the past 28 years.  But I know we’re outgrowing that model (if we haven’t already), and I’m grateful it’s lasted this long. I can’t complain. But maybe I can whine just a little?

I’m usually pretty decent at accepting change and rolling with the punches, but I think these upcoming blows are going to land squarely in the sentimental part of my gut, which is already queasy with holiday nostalgia.

So, as hard core holiday lovers push through these last days of the season, and as my beloved and rock solid family Christmas traditions turn to sand, I offer these photos as a way of saying “thank you” (although I’m not sure to whom specifically) for another beautiful holiday season, and as a toast to whatever new paths await us as our family life changes and grows.

Merry Christmas (yep- it’s still appropriate- today is day 10 of 12)!

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