Holidays can bring on the blues for those of us who are empty nesters. It’s natural to feel a void when our grown kids begin to shape their own holiday traditions. Once we were in the center of it all, and now as we take our place on the sidelines—sadness is natural. I remember how exciting this season was as a young mom of daughters. I had freedom to explore “new” ways of celebrating both Thanksgiving and Christmas. For Christmas, instead of the traditional tinsel of my growing up years I bought ornaments that were sentimental to my girls. Sometimes the theme was purple other times it was pink. You might find Rapunzel and Mulan side by side on our tree in an a imaginary gesture of friendship. There were many special memories unique to our preferences as a family unit.

Funny, I never thought about how my own parents (or grandparents) must have felt sitting on the sidelines as the spectator to my new horizon. I can visualize their smiles beaming as they watched my children’s eyes light up with squeals joy on Christmas morning. Perhaps, in letting go of some of their own traditions they were giving me a gift I hadn’t realized at the time–the gift of allowing me to personalize holiday traditions for my young budding family. Of course, basking in the magic of Christmas cheer without having all the responsibilities has its own perks as a grandparent.

Never-the-less, something about seasons changing hands and the baton being passed (even in the best ways) can cause the heart to become painfully aware of loss and time. For this reason we might want to consider cultivating a few special traditions at this time of life–just for us. After all, being over 50 holds unique opportunities.

This is the sentiment that inspired Next is Now (a community for women over 50). Community and fellowship in our age demographic is important because, although we may experience change differently, we all have those dreadful thoughts that tell us our best years are behind us. They certainly were good years, but the truth is that we are still here and very much alive. We need to remind each other and spur one another on. With less responsibilities at this time of life we have the freedom to experience adventures with a new found sense of wonder. Those thoughts years ago of some day…when I have time…has arrived, hence the wording—Next is Now. The Holidays are a great way to explore this new reality.

What can we do to bring new adventure to the table? It might be as simple as specialty food selection and evening eggnog with a few friends. Perhaps Christmas caroling. There may be old traditions that you miss from your own childhood that could be re-ignited. I remember a holly tree my parents had one year. Ever since then holly holds special sentiment to me. I have a holly bush in the front yard and plan to throw a few lights on it. I love the scent of pine so I bought a diffuser to fill the house with Christmas aroma and music. 

It is also a time to consider new traditions, adventures that might be exciting to explore and incorporate into the future. For instance, I have never been to an actual “tree farm” where you pick and chop down your own tree (or have an attendant chop it down for you). This will be a delight to try this year. I googled tree farms near me and was surprised to find several spots. How enchanting this will be with a few friends.

Sure, I will be the first one to the sidelines with my beautiful kids, and grandkids. And if it’s my turn to host the family gathering, I’m all in! But there is even more—fun and adventure awaits our season over 50. And the best part is our grown kids will delight in seeing us thrive.

What are some of your old traditions and what are some of your new? If you have Instagram share a photo with hashtag #nextisnowmoments

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