Empty Nester Holidays: Are they different now?

Empty Nester Holidays

How to handle the empty nester holidays ~ Do we need to adjust?

Holiday Decorating ~

I can remember during the first two years of living in the empty nest, it was pretty rough for me during the holidays. Craig was traveling a lot and my 6’4’’ college son was no longer available to put up the Christmas tree lights with me. One of the highlights of the season for me was to put on the Christmas music and help Nick with the lights on our very tall tree. Ugh, I did have quite the pity party…

The hard truth is that now that the kids are grown and out of the nest, it just isn’t the same and it really sucks sometimes. But I did get through that first year and kept reminding myself that times were changing and I needed to make a new plan; An empty nester plan for the holidays.

Do we decorate? Even if the kids may only be there for a short visit?

Absofrickenlutely! – Over the last few years I have pared down the home decorating, but there is still a strong holiday presence. I don’t cover every surface with Christmas decorations, but I do put up our familiar favorites. There is no reason not to is there?

Holiday Negotiations ~

This will be the first year in the newly renovated, downsized, much smaller, empty nest where the kids no longer each have their own room. There is no personal haven in which to retreat like when they were teens. No this house is meant for two, and we will squeeze in two very opinionated, all grown up children. This is not to say that they don’t have a room and a bed, but Nick will sleep in Craig’s office and Alex will take my guest room/office. Nothing is like it used to be, talk about an adjustment.

Empty Nester Holidays

The kids have been really great about these major house changes. Neither one has ever complained about how we sold their childhood home and moved away. I imagine they just adjusted and accepted the fact that their empty nester parents had to make changes at this new time in their lives.

Holiday Happiness ~

This small house will be an insane, non-stop, happy-busy, nest and I can’t wait! Rocco will be in heaven to have both kids here!

This year both kids will have significant others visiting with us.They (all 4 of them) might be staying with us at the same time… oh boy! Seriously it will be fine. We added another bathroom during the renovation and therefore, no couple has to share with another. What a relief!

Bonus! They can cook!

They all can cook really well too! Nick and Kylie love to send me photos of their healthy creations and Alex and Brent work as an expert pair in the kitchen, while sweet Rocco waits at his imaginary line at the edge of the kitchen. Because he is under foot so often, we trained him to wait at the end of the galley kitchen and watch us from there.

I used to think that maybe the best family years were when they were little and we had Santa lists, cookie making, endless gift wrapping and the pressure to find the one gift that was out of stock. No I am beginning to understand that we are heading into an incredibly joyous holiday adventure with a grown up family! Christmas lives in our hearts and we can be happy anywhere, large house or small, comfortable or not.

Empty Nester Holidays

How about you? Are your empty nester holidays different now that your kids are grown and out of the house?

I can’t wait!

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10 thoughts on “Empty Nester Holidays: Are they different now?”

  1. Suzanne, I love this post! I can so relate to the changing traditions of having adult children and the question about decorating. This Holiday Season we will have a tree after a few years of not having had one because of many back-to-back cross-country moves. There will be my adult daughter and her beau, her dog, and a brand new puppy with whom to share the magic of the Season and the splendor of downtown Seattle during the Holidays! I’m so lucky!

    • It sounds like your empty nest will be full and happy this holiday season! You also have adjusted to the changing of circumstances very well Donna!

  2. Ah, the transitions are tricky. I now have to pay to have people bring down the Christmas decorations (30 boxes) and set up the trees. Last year, my son and his wife were not here for Christmas. That was very tough. We waited until New Year’s to open gifts…it just didn’t feel right. Wait til your kids get “others”! Life really gets a bit complicated. and YES, I decorate like I always do!!!!

    • You have adjusted to the changes in your empty nest Tam. I really appreciate you sharing your feelings and the personal details of your holiday season!

  3. Holidays in a new house with grown-up children and their sigs? Wow!! I would be spinning.
    Our holidays are not too terribly different, probably because the kids are only about 20 minutes away. That didn’t stop our daughter from ‘coming home’ for the long holiday weekends! lol.
    I do put up fewer decorations. And this year we are switching from a real tree to an artificial one. We just couldn’t handle pine needle massacre on January 2 another year!
    Enjoy your new holiday traditions, Suzanne!

  4. We are kidless for both holidays this year. So for Thanksgiving we are heading off to Santa Cruz for a crabfest Thursday and then to our favorite seaside restaurant on Friday. I am still decorating for Xmas (we are hoping our son and his fiance join us for our annual tree chopping adventure). But I love having the house decorated for Xmas!

  5. Wow, this has been a daily topic of descussion for my husband (Craig) and I. We actually moved to the Seattle area for a job while our children are in California,Utah and South Dakota . This will be our second Christmas we do not decorate. I am tempted as the decorations start appearing in stores and neighborhoods but, we find it a hard thing to subject ourselves to. But, then I think we should decorate for the 2 of us and our own tradition. For the past 2 years we have gone to Cali for my birthday so we focus on our trip to see our children and grand children for now.

    • Michel – I sure appreciate your candid comments. Ultimately you have to do what makes you happy. If not decorating is ok for you, then I thinks it great. Decorating might not be an unhappiness trigger for you. I wish you all the best! Thank you for reading.

  6. I can’t believe I stumbled upon this post and your site! My husband and I were just talking (aka complaining) about the very things you mention in this blog! I want to downsize, he doesn’t because the kids need a place to “come home to”. Yeah….trouble is, we don’t know if and when they will come home. Things have changed. I had my own “pity party” this year too. So, we are looking to start our own adventures to change our attitude about this soon to be empty nest (we have a 17 year old still at home).

    • Oh boy Kathy – you are singing my song. The downsizing has been challenging but a great adventure for us as a couple. The kids are busy building their lives in different cities, I promise they can adjust to a new empty nest for their parents. We have a lot of living yet to do and we need to make some changes. So glad that you found AdventuresofEmptyNesters!


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