From about the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, my life is pretty much consumed with preparations for the holidays.

It starts with shopping, then decorating, then more shopping, then cleaning and organizing and finally wrapping.

It feels endless. Just when I think I’m caught up with everything, I remember something I’d forgotten to do, or someone I had forgotten to buy a present for.

Then Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are spent unwrapping all of the work.

Whether it be messing up the clean house, eating the food that took hours to prepare or tearing into the paper that beautifully encompassed the thoughtful presents we picked out for each person on our list.

Christmas is over in the blink of an eye.

This year, our Christmas was a little different for our family than in years past. With my mom’s move to a smaller dwelling, we had to move our Christmas morning location as well.

I offered our home, which meant Mom would spend the night on Christmas Eve and Santa would visit her at our house too.

Everything went off without a hitch. On Christmas Eve, we sent our “children” to bed, even the 23-year-old.

My husband and I got right to work. We placed the presents around the tree and completed all of the preparations in just under an hour.

As I placed each package under tree I watched my mom get ready for bed in the next room. Even though I’d been doing this tradition for years, seeing my mom get into bed earlier than me made me realize that the torch had been passed.

Every year I forget, but soon remember, how much work pulling this day off is for a family with three kids. Keeping the magic alive and keeping my sanity in tact is an interesting combination.

I have very fond memories of my childhood thanks to the hard work of my parents. My parents would shut our bedroom doors and scurry down the hall making just enough noise to peak our curiosity, yet quiet enough for us to fall asleep from exhaustion.

Here I was, doing the same. Sneaking around like one of Santa’s elves, just like my mom did for me. It was bittersweet.

I don’t dwell on it at all, but I know one day the time will come that I will pass the torch to my children. Hopefully I will spend the night at one of their homes and get to experience it all in a new perspective.

At the end of the day, the best part of Christmas is the time we spend together. The presents are fun. The looks on my kids’ faces when they open a present they really like is pretty great too. But what is most important for me are the traditions.

The memories that are created and the reminders of our childhood carried on to our own children.

I know each Christmas will change just a little until we have an empty nest. Our children will go off and make their own lives.

I know they will make time for us, just like we did for our parents.

I know that our traditions will carry on for the most part. Our children will make their own new traditions as well.

I hope every one had a wonderful Christmas spent with loved ones. Here’s to a happy and healthy new year as well! 

Jennifer Lague writes from Derry.

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