Time goes on and empty nesters we all become. In our modern world you and your children may end up living in different parts of the country -- California and New Hampshire in my case. These days we just don't get to celebrate Christmas with our children or any child for that matter. It's a much different holiday without kids. For one, there's no one to wake you on Christmas morning long before you've had enough sleep. Look out chickens -- here come the kids. Our house is beautifully decorated but years of Christmas morning traditions have gone by the wayside. Last year when I received a Christmas present from my daughter Pat I wasted no time opening it and discovering a wonderful indoor weather station. I sent Pat an email thanking her even though Christmas was still days away. Her response was a little surprised that I hadn't waited to open it -- she was perhaps a little disappointed that I broke Santa's rules.
I look at that weather station on my desk every day. Even a year latter I remember how last year's Christmas unfolded and was motivated to rethink my approach to the season. I couldn't help but begin with Pat's first Christmas in Klienbundenback, Germany. Pat was just months old and won't remember but I always will. I thought about any child's joy in anticipating the discovery of what "Santa" had left for them. Then I realized it was their wonder and joy that made Christmas special for me as well. When you think about the Christmas season experience there's a lot to be learned about giving, receiving and caring about others. This year I'll be following Santa's rules. I can enjoy anticipating what's under the tree for me and my daughter Pat can enjoy thinking about how pleased I'll be to discover what she bought for me. I know she spent time carefully choosing just the right gift. The least I can do is wait for Christmas morning. We may not be together but keeping the tradition will make us closer and indeed make Christmas a more special day between us. Keeping Santa's rules is definitely the way to go. Especially for those of us for whom Christmas has become childless and a bit old hat. Traditions aren't for children alone. They are for everyone.