This is one of those years when family tradition changes. There are missing faces and extenuating circumstances, so one needs to "reassemble the troops" to get through. The year my husband's aunt died I volunteered to cook Thanksgiving dinner "just this once". That was in 1996, and you know, I'm sure, that it's been at my house ever since. Christmas Eve has always been family open house on my side of the family. We used to assemble at my parents'. When my Dad died we moved it to my house since I had two little ones. At least I've learned not to volunteer to sing at the Midnight Mass. That makes Santa cranky because he can't come to my house until Himself and I (and our vampire children) are asleep. Tonight my sisters and their husbands will come. I may see my niece. My nephew is going to be at his new in-laws'. Himself will be at his parents' house, since otherwise his Dad will be alone all day with his wife, who wanders endlessly while she is awake, and rarely speaks. My guess is one of my sons will go with him to spread a little Christmas cheer over there. Usually my in-laws come for breakfast on Christmas morning (the only time of the year I buy bacon) and go with us to church. Then they head for my sister-in-law's house for a proper Christmas dinner, because this side of the family is prone to Chinese food and sitting around playing with toys all day. This year we will all assemble at Himself's parents' house on Christmas Day, and we'll import the food, although whether Chinese or Indian remains to be determined.
It's important to be able to adapt, because no matter how much we fight it, life changes. It always will. Deciding "It has to be this way because it's ALWAYS been this way!" is a sure recipe for broken hearts and disaster. I've adopted a, "Well, it WAS that, so now it's THIS I guess" sort of attitude, which is much easier on the nerves. I've even agreed to drive my elder son to a "gig" on Christmas night. He'll play his violin at a private party for two hours while I sit in the car with a book light. Or maybe the host will invite me into the party, too. You never know, because it's something new... Merry Christmas!