Christmas with the family has been a ritual for as long as I can remember. In the last 50 years, I have only missed the family get-together twice. Once when I was doing my MBA and had an exam on Christmas Day and the other was last year courtesy of the Covid Pandemic. This year we were blessed as a family to be able to gather together under one roof and spend some quality time together.
However, there were two big noticeable changes. Both are clear signals that the children of the home are growing up. And I guess that means we are entering a new phase as a family. The family is growing up too, and I so wanted to hold onto the old ways and not let the new in.
My sister’s daughters (two bubbly and energetic nieces) used to be the customary Christmas elves. Cookies and milk for Santa at night and an early Xmas morning, banging on our door, to wake us up to open presents has slipped off the list this year. In its place is now thoughtful presents from them and a phone call from my sister (at a much saner hour), summoning us to come to the fireplace where the gifts are gathered and we as a family gather to unwrap another Christmas. The squeals of excitement and the magic of Santa are gone but the pleasure of being together and sharing that morning remain.
The other big change was not getting to share the room with our son. For the first time this year, he had a separate room. He is 20 now and needs his own space, said the perceptive mother. I put up a feeble resistance saying that I wanted to spend quality time with him. She wisely told me to check if he would prefer his own room this time and that is how the Christmas cookie crumbled. He got his own room and I got to ruminate on what his growing up means for me.
The end of the Santa phase and the beginning of the separate rooms phase marked for me another milestone in the journey of the kids growing up. It was a reminder that growing apart is a part of growing together. Giving each other space is such an important part of making sure that we as a family stay connected and together, came home to me with resounding clarity, this year.
My mind drifts to the work world and I suddenly see the same pattern emerge there. For growth, there must be space. Some of my colleagues who had become friends over the years needed their space to grow. And as they spread their wings and found new roles, like my son found his new room, we all get to grow together into a new phase. Learning and unlearning, letting go to help each other grow. This is what I unwrapped this year as I thought about my Christmas at home.
As one grows up in the workplace some of the things we used to believe (like Santa brings you presents if you are good) get replaced with the reality of life at work and what really makes it work. I am happy to realise that in this realisation and this growing apart, with my work family too, we are all growing together. Growth is about embracing change and enjoying each Christmas for what it offers us. May we all grow apart, together, at work and home.
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