Chris Clarke-Epstein is an amazing writer and speaker, as well as a beloved friend, mentor, and “Ahma Chris” to our kids. She was also an integral part of our most recent Escape Adulthood Summit. A while back, she told us about a special penguin-themed family tradition, and we’re thrilled she was willing to write this guest post. And since today is World Penguin Day, what better time to share it?
All my growing up years, our family – the whole family gathered on Christmas Eve for Swedish food, amazing story telling, and glorious present opening. We wound down the festivities in time for those so inclined to attend the religious service of choice (Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopalian) or not. Christmas Day was reserved for individual celebrations with immediate family members. No one challenged nor thought of challenging this pattern. Since our family primarily remained physically located in the Midwest, distance wasn’t a factor in keeping our long held pattern inviolate.
Divorce, re-marriage, and the inclusion of new families living at greater distances into our tribe did. The year arrived when my two children announced their holiday plans and I quickly realized that they were encompassing the traditions and plans of their new, added long-distance families and my husband and I were going to be ALONE FOR THE ENTIRE HOLIDAY SEASON! Nice to their faces, I quietly went into one of the most significant sad-pouts-righteous-indignation 3 days of my life. Frank, my husband noticed at about day two and a half. “What’s wrong, honey?”
That’s all it took. My vitriol poured forth. “They’re going to be gone! All of them! We’re not going to have one child or grandchild for the entire holiday vacation! And they planned it all without asking me for my plans or WISHES AT ALL! Amazing isn’t it. We’re the ones they call when they need a babysitter, childcare for a sick child, or transportation for kids, dogs, or forgotten items! We attend school concerts, hockey games, and mind-numbing movies. We read books, play games, and host picnics. We share vacations, meals, and our backyard. And now, at the time of the year that family means the most, they leave us high and dry.” [Read more…]