This year will be the tenth time I have celebrated the holidays in Vermont after moving away from my hometown in Ohio.
I moved here one week after I graduated from the Ohio State University and two days after I got married. It was a lot of changes to get used to, all at once, but I quickly came to love living in Vermont. Over my years living here, I have embraced the outdoor lifestyle, joined a large variety of groups, and made lots of great friends. However, the hardest part about living in Vermont hasn’t changed at all.
I miss my family, especially around the holidays.
I have such fond memories of Thanksgiving from my childhood. I always woke up early, eagerly awaiting the start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. During one of the commercials, we would always rush over to my grandparents’ house. My grandmother would be cooking up a feast in the kitchen while all of my aunts and uncles helped set the table and all of us grandchildren tried to keep the hyper dalmatian from stealing any of the food. My entire family would then enjoy the meal gathered around a table crammed down the center of the small living room. Every year was exactly the same and I eagerly anticipated everything each Thanksgiving.
Things were a lot different when I moved to Vermont. I am lucky that my husband’s immediate family lives in Vermont, so we still had a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. It all seemed so quiet to me, though, after my celebrations filled with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, all happily crammed together. The food was good, but it wasn’t the same as the things my grandmother made from the same recipes year after year. I missed the familiarity and the comfort.
Even though I like to reminisce about my childhood Thanksgivings, things have changed back in Ohio. As time marched on, my grandparents moved out of their house, my grandfather and the dalmatian passed away, my cousin moved to Australia, and it’s becoming too much work for my grandmother to cook an entire Thanksgiving feast for the entire family.
My childhood Thanksgivings no longer exist anymore. I can only remember them fondly.
While I miss my family during the holidays, I am trying to create my own family traditions so that my children will have the same type of happy family memories when they grow up. I still look forward to watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television every year and my children enjoy it every year, too. We gather at my in-laws’ house for dinner, with all the traditional Thanksgiving foods. I always make some food to contribute to the meal, which is more fun as my children grow old enough to enjoy helping me out in the kitchen.
Christmas is my favorite holiday and I have even more fond memories of my childhood celebrations. I remember attending Christmas Eve services in a beautiful church filled with candlelight with my father’s side of the family. I remember making gingerbread houses and mountains of sugar cookies to leave out for Santa Claus. I remember cramming all of my mother’s side of the family into my grandparents’ living room, where the dalmatian would always chew up somebody’s present, no matter how closely we tried to watch her. Mostly, I remember being surrounded by family and filled with a sense of peace and happiness.
I always miss my family most during December. We send presents and talk on the phone and email each other, but it’s just not the same as being together in the same place. I miss my family and nothing I do will change that.
Instead, I try to focus on my children. We make poorly constructed gingerbread houses every year and a mountain of sugar cookies, which they absolutely love to decorate. I play piano and organ at a local church on Christmas Eve. We spend Christmas Day together as a family, opening presents and just enjoying each other’s company. We have also started some of our own holiday traditions, such as attending the Essex Junction Train Hop and going to cookie swaps. My children look forward to December every year and I hope they will share some of these traditions with their own children one day.
The holidays are a time full of nostalgia for me. I try to look back on my childhood holidays fondly while focusing my efforts on my children, who are forming their own childhood memories now. While I will always miss my family, I know that missing them is just a sign of how much I love them.