This will be the first year that we will not have our children here at home for Christmas. This is something that most families face—only the lucky ones all live in the same town forever.

Not having a “family” Christmas sparks all sorts of things. The big tree stays in the attic, along with all of the historical, family ornaments. Or, the historical family ornaments are sorted through and dispersed to the children, for whom they have the most meaning. Instead of adorning every single room with holiday festoons and seasonal accessories, there is instead one little tree in the front window, and a wreath on the door. So much easier to put those away in January. The stockings are packed into the boxes with the ornaments to be sent to the kids. No sense hanging them here.

Cookies? Who would eat them? And the standing order for the big turkey—cancelled. No need to root around in the pantry drawers for the holly berry napkin rings, either.

This all sounds very dispiriting. But there is an antidote. We look forward to traveling across the country to a house where there is a very excited three-year-old boy, who can’t wait for Santa. In this house, there are five, count them, five, Christmas trees. Stockings. At least two advent calendars, three crèches, an entire collection of German incense smoker Santas, holiday bedsheets and duvet covers—the entire nine yards! And I don’t have to put any of it away after the holidays!

Christmas dinner will be delicious, and I don’t have to cook it. There will be three toddlers, ten terrific adults, and a bunch of bad jokes and good cheer. Lots of people to help do the dishes. And Christmas music.

We will not be sleeping in our own beds, but the guest room mattress in this house is extremely comfortable. And right before he goes to sleep, a little boy will climb in with us and ask to hear a story.

We will probably spend all our Christmases in this house from now on, until we get too old to travel. And as far as I am concerned, one doesn’t get to be too old to travel until the age of 88. Thus, we don’t have to think about that for many years.

Another thing. Airports at Christmas time are happy places. If you don’t believe me, just watch Love, Actually for the hundredth time. Family reunions in baggage claim are hard to beat.

If you are going to be at your house for Christmas, put up an extra tree. Maybe set a Santa figurine on top of the toilet tank—so festive. And have a wonderful time in front of your own fireside. But if you are traveling to see your kids, maybe we will pass one another in the concourse at O’Hare. I will give you a hug and hand you a candy cane. Happy Holidays.

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