Sister Sleepovers
Every year, my kids take turns putting the angel on top of the Christmas tree.  On Christmas Eve, after church we make cookies to set out for Santa and then they practice their Christmas morning wake up routine.  

Have you ever heard of such? A Christmas wake up routine?  It's so cute to watch them. The wake up routine actually starts with a sister sleepover.  I have four girls and on Christmas Eve they all gather in one of the girls’ rooms for a sister sleep over.  This way on Christmas morning, they are all together to wake each other up and the wake up routine begins.  The girls hide their eyes on the way down the stairs to wake us up before seeing what Santa stuffed in our stockings.  It's the smallest, simplest routine.  I'm not sure why the need to practice it.  I think it must be the excitement of anticipation.

They have done this together for at least 14 years.  It started because the oldest two shared a room and expanded as we added daughters and adjusted as girls switched rooms.  The sister sleepover is now a fully integrated tradition.  Their tradition has become our tradition.

Times are about to change, though.  My oldest will graduate in June and be off.  We don’t know what the future will hold for holidays.  As the girls grow older and older each one will leave the house and start families and that tradition will fade until our nest is empty.

I anticipate grieving that loss.  I know our Christmas will be very different after that.  What traditions are different for you now?

When circumstances change or we experience significant loss there is a ripple of impact that hits at the holidays.  Because the holidays only come annually and not daily, the impact of the loss sometimes takes years to process.  You are used to not seeing that loved one you lost at the dinner table daily now. But maybe it’s only been two Thanksgivings or two Christmases and the loss at these holidays still feels raw.

Children are always so joyful and excited for holidays.  I’ve heard adults comment that they wish they felt the kind of joy at the holidays that kids do.  Some of us live vicariously through our kids excitement while they are with us.  Maybe our recognition of loss of traditions and people over time is why the joy of anticipation seems to fade for adults.   If that is the case then we can expect to experience more change and loss over the years increasing the likelihood for falling joy in years to come. I hate this for all of us because I believe we are meant to live a life of abundant joy!

In addition to the suggestions I made a couple weeks ago in the blog post, Falling Joy, I offer another suggestion.  Think ahead and plan healing rituals and traditions to help you process the loss and change.  

My sisters and I did this for the one year anniversary of our mother’s death by getting matching tattoos. On the second anniversary we took all three of our families to the beach for a week.  During the holidays, some families will light a candle or set a place for their missing loved one.  There is no one way to do this.  There is no right way to plan and do healing rituals. The trick is to plan something of meaning with intention. Something meaningful and symbolic for you and your family.  

As my girls get older and we loose the Christmas wake up routine tradition, we can still keep the sister sleepover one alive by planning them for other times of the year.  Then at Christmas we can create new traditions.  Finding and keeping abundant joy sometimes means adapting to and accepting change.  May your holidays be filled with abundant joy this season.

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