It has been two weeks since we dropped our daughter off at the airport. Our son left the day before. Both are univeristy students – one in the east, one in the west. Unfortunately, neither are close enough to just ‘drop by’ to visit.
This past September marked the second year of an ‘empty nest’ for us. I was caught off guard by how difficult it was – I thought it would be easier this time. But I really struggled.
Perhaps it was a combination of events. Harvest was long, drawn-out and challenging. There were seemingly endless days of rain and grey skies. I missed the sunshine.
Last fall we had out-of-country and out-of-province company so the house wasn’t empty all the time. This year our daughter home didn’t make it home for Thanksgiving. It wasn’t the same without her here. And as fall moved into winter, the hours of daylight lessened and my spirit waned.
Normally when December 1st rolls around, I eagerly prepare for Christmas – decorate the house, send cards, wrap gifts, bake and listen to carols. Not this year. All that I cared about was having everyone under one roof. The rest just didn’t matter.
It wasn’t until our daughter arrived home on December 16th that the decorations came out and preparations began in full swing, with enthusiasm. We waited until our son got home a few days later to decorate our tree – together, as we have done since they were old enough to help.
We celebrated the holidays with all of our usual traditions, including cooking smokies and smores over an outdoor fire on New Year’s Eve. I soaked it all in with deep appreciation.
When the festivites were over, it was time for them to return to their lives and for us to return to ours. It had been a wonderful holiday, relaxed and not rushed, with just the right amount of laughter and affectionate harassment.
Care packages were assembled, hugs exchanged and off they went. I thought I would cry. I thought I would be sad. Surprisingly, I was okay. I had received exactly what I needed – time together as a family of four.
So tears did not fall when we returned from the airport to our empty nest. They were replaced by feelings of gratitude and contentment. All was well. Plus with a fridge full of leftovers, I had a reprieve from cooking, and time for a nap…