When You’re the ‘Small’ Family for the Holidays

The holidays bring about memories of everyone gathered under one roof, sharing presents and meals, laughter and cheer. Our home is a little more quiet and our place settings are fewer. The day is still special, yes; but far more simple. You see, we’re on the opposite side of the country from the rest of our families. We are the ‘small family’ for the holidays, with it being just myself, my fiancé and our son. Small in size, big on love.

When we made the decision to move from Massachusetts to Washington state, we knew the holiday season would be different. We knew our son, an only child, wouldn’t be bustling back and forth between different families houses over the celebratory days. We knew we wouldn’t be going to the same tree farm Patrick and I grew up going to every year. But that was okay; because as we grew older and started our own family, things changed in our extended families and the generations who seemed to uphold those traditions passed on. It was up to us to start new ones.

It can be hard, seeing other families at the school assemblies with tribes of people there to support their kiddo while it’s just you two, the parents. It can be hard, waking up on those holiday mornings and knowing it’s just on you to make this day special. It can be hard, remembering what the holidays were like when you were a kid and it seemed like there was a house full of people but your child only knows a morning of you three.  You wonder if he’s missing out on some fundamental part of childhood because he’s not building forts with cousins or careening down the hill going questionably fast on a sled in your grandparents backyard. (Though some would argue that we also miss out on the logistical nightmare that is holiday air travel!)

But it’s not the size of your dinner table, your tree, your list of gifts, or visitors cars in the driveway.

It’s the laughter in the room, the smile on his face, and how he will always remember the traditions we are making, Here and now. Instead of getting sad or anxious about how things aren’t quite the same for our son as they were for us, we’ve taken on the season as our own and made our own traditions. We found our own favorite tree farm here in Washington. we visit our favorite Christmas lights attraction and make our own playlist. We spend the morning in our home, laughing and enjoying simple gifts and a good meal.

It is always enough for them, mama. No matter what you do, the day is magical for them because they believe that it is. Don’t get so caught up wondering if you’re ‘big’ enough for them and forget to enjoy the wonder of the small things.

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