Ahhhhh . . . the week after Christmas. Usually, this is a time of calm and quiet in my home. The get-togethers are behind me, as are the "extra" church services, various Christmas concerts and programs, and the general busy-ness of December. I putter around the house, nibbling on whatever Christmas goodies are left, snug in my pajamas, and I spend this time relaxing with good books and cups of hot chocolate and enjoying the house all decked out in its Christmas splendor.
This year, though, things were quite different. My daughter and I celebrated Christmas quietly (we had celebrated a few days earlier with my son, while he was home for 3 days for Christmas), and the next day I began boxing up the Christmas decorations and returning the apartment to its normal "look".
Normally, I don't take down the Christmas decorations until January 6. My mom always waited until then because that's when, in the church, we celebrate the arrival of the Magi and, of course, their giving of gifts to the Christ-child. With January 6, the Christmas season ends.
I'm a traditionalist, and I cling to family traditions like a barnacle, but this year I had a wonderful reason for disregarding such a major one. My daughter decided a month or so ago that she was going to move home, and I needed to make some major changes to the furniture arrangement so there would be room for her things.
Off the tree and into their little boxes went all the ornaments, packed away went all the decorations, and before I knew it, the apartment was back to its pre-day-after Thanksgiving look. Except for one thing. My largest Nativity set is still in place; I just couldn't bring myself to put it away before Epiphany.
Saturday evening, my daughter left to meet friends, and I settled onto the couch with a new book and some goodies to nibble on. I looked around the living room, and I missed the Christmas decorations. I went to bed feeling a bit guilty about my decision to take everything down instead of just squish the tree over into the corner.
Sunday afternoon, a fairly new friend, a wonderful older woman I work with in a volunteer opportunity, shared with me that the coming year is going to be very busy for her. As we talked, I learned that after 40+ years in her present home, she and her husband will be moving in the Fall to a condo in a retirement community. She was quick to explain that the move is purely their choice and that they put their names on the list for a to-be-built condo 3 years ago.
I couldn't help but notice as she talked, that she seemed more resigned than excited about this change, so I asked her how she felt about it. She paused before saying something quite simple yet quite profound.
"No matter what age a person is, change is inevitable. I've found, though, that as we age, change becomes more and more hard to bear. People who resist it or refuse to change become bitter and brittle. Looking ahead, accepting change with grace, and adapting with a positive attitude are the keys to remaining mentally and physically healthy."
She went on to explain that she's accepted the change and is working on looking ahead with a positive attitude. That last part is, she explained, something she has to work on day by day -- sometimes hour by hour.
My older friend is very wise.
My daughter's Ugg boots sit by the door, just a few feet from where the Christmas tree stood. A reason to celebrate!