Tonight I returned from my commute with a Christmas tree from Wightman's Farms in Morristown tied to the roof of the minivan. The boys came outside, cut the twine off the tree and dragged it onto our enclosed front porch. Later, our 15-year-old son set the tree up in the stand in a corner of the porch we've never put the tree in before. He said he liked the spot better than our usual one by the front door.
This is the first time in more than a decade that the four of us haven't piled into the family car to a tree farm in Cranbury, New Jersey and sipped cocoa from styrofoam cups on our drive home. This was the family tradition, but the boys are older now and the tradition had lost its appeal. This weekend, I tried to cajole my husband and our sons into heading down for the tree, but our older son was busy with his social life and his cycling and the younger one was cozied up with the dog and a book that he read most of the weekend. They couldn't be bothered. I could see it was time to let that tradition go.
Others family Christmas traditions have faded away. No more do we trek each December to the "Santa Train" at Allaire State Park, or ask neighbors to store presents from Santa or make sure Santa wraps his presents in different paper than the presents from me and my husband or bake a Birthday Cake for Jesus.
While some parents find these changes and losses sad, I never had. Our sons were not summoned into being from nothingness so they could be babies and toddlers or preteens their whole lives. I love the young men they are becoming.
So this season, we are coming up with new traditions. Already we have had lovely Saturday and Sunday night Advent dinners by candlelight. We plan to have friends over for a pre-Christmas party. The boys and I are making chocolate sauce from scratch for gifts. All four of us are also talking about cooking together for the Feast of Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, a feast I haven't celebrated since my Italian grandmother was alive.
Heck, we might even consider Midnight Mass for the very first time!