Where to spend Christmas

By Joe Rector

The shopping is done, and before long, the traveling will start, at least for Amy and me. It’s another year where we “roll with the flow” to be able to see our children. Just like millions of Americans, we’ll be in a dither for the next couple of weeks. That’s all right because the hubbub is worth it.

Not long ago, I swore that our Christmases would remain traditional. That meant that Dal and Brenda would come home from Nashville and Nick, Lacey, and Madden would arrive in Knoxville from Bellevue. Jim’s family would drive just a few miles from Emory Road, and our brood would walk through the woods to meet up with everyone at Mother’s house. I couldn’t imagine any different kind of Christmas.

When Lacey reached the age of three, we told Amy’s parents that we would stay home for Christmas instead of driving to Cookeville and then zipping home on Christmas morning. Amy told them they were more than welcome to come to our house for the holidays, and since she was an only child, they took us up on our offer. Some years, her uncle and aunt came as well, and sleeping arrangements tightened, but we still managed it. My mother welcomed the four of them and fed just a bigger crowd.

During college, our two children came home for the holidays. It was sometimes difficult for them to bounce from lives at college and freedom to home and rules and loving parents. Like I did back then, they returned to their places as soon as possible because there they felt comfortable, not overwhelmed with things discordant with the way they lived on campus.

When Madden arrived, Lacey told us what we’d told Amy’s parents. It was tough, but we spent our first Christmas away from home. At 5:00 a.m., we drove to Lacey’s house to watch the boy open presents. During the afternoon, the children came to our condo for Christmas dinner. Dallas struggled the most with that because he had to drive from Chattanooga. He always left during the afternoon to be home for his part-time job.

These days, we travel to Hendersonville a few days early to spend time with Lacey’s bunch. Then we hopped in the car to be home at least by Christmas Eve. Dallas is still single, and to us, it’s important that he has family with him to celebrate Christmas. He swears that his dog Harvey is all the company he needs, but I don’t believe that for a minute. Besides, I want to be with him to share presents and food.

I’d much rather sit home for Christmas and have things as they were all those years ago. Things change, and I understand that. I am thankful that we can see both children and spend some time with them around the Christmas season. It’s okay to travel elsewhere, just as long as I can hug my children and give them a present. I’ll spend Christmas Day with Amy, Dallas and Sadie. At some point, we’ll eat an alternative to the traditional Christmas meal, and then later snooze on the recliner couch.

I hope you all have worked out your holiday plans so that you can see family and good friends. In addition, give calls to those with whom you aren’t able to spend time. They miss you, as you do them. Above all, be careful and always remember the reason that we celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Day.