Can you still call it the “kid’s table” at holiday dinners if everyone at it is 18 and older? I still do, as I continue to sit with my young adult cousins and siblings, now with wine in hand. The holidays are changing as I get older, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.
I can’t even fathom how I used to be so excited on Christmas morning that I woke up at 5 am with my siblings, ready to open presents. My poor parents probably just went to bed an hour before after setting out and wrapping all the presents and eating Santa’s cookies.
As the oldest child in the family, I was the first to know who Santa really was, and was able to be Santa along with my parents to make Christmas special for my younger siblings and cousins. Even so, I still felt the Christmas magic. Once all the kids in the family knew Santa’s secret, I thought the magic was going to disappear, but it just changed.
The magic of the holidays didn’t come from the hope of Santa coming anymore but from the joy of gathering as a family, spending time together, and sharing our love through gifts and conversation.
It’s crazy to think all the kids in my family are now 18 and older, with me being the oldest at 23. I hold onto many moments I’ve experienced as a kid during the holidays, many of them involving my family.
Every Thanksgiving we would wake up early to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on the TV. My favorite part were the Broadway musicals featured in the beginning. I used to get so happy when I knew who the singer on the floats were and sang along with my siblings while my parents cooked the turkey.
Our home has always hosted Thanksgiving, and was even remodeled with Thanksgiving in mind. I would get so excited for my cousins to come, and we would hide in my room to talk and play. I cannot imagine the day where Thanksgiving will not be hosted at my parent’s house, but who knows–maybe I’ll host it in my own home in the future.
Christmas has always been a five-day celebration for my family. On the 22nd, we celebrate my Abuela and Abuelo’s (Grandma and Grandpa’s) anniversary together as a family, the 23rd is my mom’s birthday, we celebrate Noche Buena (Good Night) on the 24th, Christmas day the 25th, and Christmas day part 2 on the 26th.
Noche Buena is a Cuban way of celebrating Christmas Eve. We typically go to the Christmas Vigil Mass that night and follow it up with a nice family dinner featuring the main course of a whole cooked pig. This pig lasts us three days, giving the family plenty to eat. On Christmas day, we share all the leftover food, everyone gathering again to eat once more. And to us kids, it means we are able to play with our new toys all together.
Since I’ve been in college, the dynamic of the family dinners have changed. We see new faces at the table, new significant others, different families, and new kiddos. Before dinner, as kids we would all go into our rooms to play with toys, but now we each sit around on our phones and talk about the funniest video we’ve seen online. I always try to keep us conversing to be able to enjoy each other’s presence rather than just being on our phones.
Now that my sister is a cook and baker she spends her Thanksgiving mornings baking at my aunt’s house, while my brother and I set up the tables at home and watch the parade. I don’t know if anyone else experienced this when they turned 21, but at first the family was very confused as to why I was drinking a glass of wine…
This lasted about two years, where I constantly felt weird pouring myself a glass of wine, and scared to even think about pouring a second. Now, the family is used to it and asks me which wines to buy or what my favorite is for them to bring and share. I am only one of the two “kids” that can legally drink, and think that when my younger siblings and cousins can drink, too, I’ll feel the same weirdness again.
I remember there were a couple of years where we changed the typical location we had our gatherings, and it was weird. To me, it did not feel like the holiday and it all felt off. This makes me wonder about the future and how we might feel when we are not celebrating in the same places anymore.
What The Future Could Look Like
I was just talking to my sister about this blog and she cannot believe how in a couple years it could be us doing all the holiday planning. Where we will all gather, who needs to cook what food, or how our gift exchange will work. It’s surreal for me to think of our Turkey being cut in my own home, and roasting the Christmas Pig at my sister’s place. Thankfully we don’t have to worry about that yet and have time to enjoy our traditions.
Until I marry, move out, and start a family on my own, I won’t know what traditions I want to carry from my childhood and what new ones I want to create. This is the first time I’m really thinking about this.
I could get my own Thanksgiving dishware and remind my kids to be grateful for their God-given blessings. My husband and I will set the tree, letting the kids add on their own ornaments, and we would set up our Nativity scene and Advent wreath. I’d invite the family over and cook a meal together remembering my grandmother’s recipes. We’d share a bottle of wine and laugh while the kids play around us. I would be constantly thinking of myself at their age and the joy my parents gifted me during the holidays, hoping I would pass it down too.
But I’m only 23, sitting at my desk in my childhood bedroom writing this blog, working on homework, and texting my boyfriend. I will live in the present appreciating every moment I have with the ones I love, and welcome change and new traditions with open arms.