When Pat and Dick's children were toddlers, their home became Christmas Holiday central. Her parents, who lived in the Midwest, came and stayed for three days. Pat's brother and sister-in-law drove down from New England, Dick's brother flew in from California. Everyone made it to the little white clapboard church across the street where Pat sang in the choir. Pat made her veal stew a la Romeo Salta for Christmas eve dinner and otherwise stocked the refrigerator and larder for all the meals, snacks and food a large family would consume in three days. They decorated the tree and set the "rules" for Christmas gift-giving. By the time everyone left, Pat and Dick were exhausted and lived on leftovers and pizza for several days.
This year--36 years later--Pat and Dick gave up the Christmas ghost. At their son's suggestion, Pat and DIck, their daughter, her husband and 6-year-old twins (plus the cat) drove down to their son's house in a city some two hours south of theirs. The son's mother in law and her boyfriend came over for dinner. There was a full house--all of Pat and Dick's Grands (including the son's dog--Pat and Dick's grandpup). Pat and Dick stayed three nights. There was no white clapboard church across the street. Pat didn't sing in the choir (sigh). The twins did not dress up in cute little dresses for their appearance at Grammy's church.
Other than that, Pat and Dick have been remarkably sanguine about what is likely to be the new normal. Pat, on request, brought a huge pot of her veal stew a la Romeo Salta for Christmas eve dinner but other than that, she had no responsibilities. She didn't have to put up a tree; she didn't have to worry about filling the refrigerator with everyone's favorite nibbles or being prepared for three days of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. "I made the stew and that was all I had to worry about," Pat says. "My daughter-in law's mom helped with the cooking. It was very pleasant not to be in charge. It was a gift." A gift that, she and Dick say, they'll be glad to get next Christmas.
"The old order changeth, giving rise to the new," and there's a pleasure in accepting the changing of the guard--even when it's at our expense.