Home for the Holidays (kind of)
My siblings like to say my parents really started spoiling me after they left for college. I’m still not convinced I didn’t get the worse end of the whole birth order deal. James, Sophia, and I (in that order) are spaced out perfectly. With a little less than two years between each of us, we’ve spent most of our collective lives in the same collective stage–with the same neighborhood friends, involved in the same sports leagues or teams, and a part of the same youth group.
My parents consistently countered the tension of three kids under the age of four and three teenagers under the same roof with a clear vision of “instilling a love for one another.” We didn’t always catch the vision, but now, without the luxury of always being together, we’ve realized their methods were pretty effective.
Everything initially changed when James left for college during my freshman year of high school, and that all too quickly became Sophia heading off my junior year. Before I knew it, James was getting married and moving to Honduras, and a couple of years later, Sophia was married and settling down in Birmingham, Alabama.
Now, as I enter my last holiday season as an undergraduate student, I am also entering my first holiday season, heading home to my parents and only my parents. For the first time in my life, I am in a completely different stage than my siblings. They’re building their lives and homes and new traditions, and as they do, my life and home and traditions are greatly impacted. In an odd way, I’m no longer the immediate family of my immediate family. To be honest, going home for the holidays this year doesn’t hold quite the allure it used to because when I picture home, I picture James and Sophia.
Thanksgiving will be my first time in Texarkana since August, and that doesn’t feel as strange as I would have expected. I’m excited, but I haven’t exactly missed it. There is just a lot less to miss. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to go home at all during the weekends; it’s just that we don’t make homemade french fries every Saturday anymore because it doesn’t seem necessary for just the three of us. It’s not that I don’t want to spend time alone with my parents. I just know there won’t be enough Tuttlebees home for board games or yard games, and I definitely won’t be able to get my parents out of the house as much on my own. And it’s not that I’m not excited to be back in my old room, but once Sophia finally arrives, my side of the two twin beds we pushed together the summer before her wedding (aka mega-bed) is saved for her husband.
As our family navigates the addition of spouses, I have an overwhelming amount of pride watching my siblings be great partners to great people who make them and our family better, but with it comes drastic change. Entering the first season, where my siblings are “visitors” in their childhood home, means I am a lot less sure of what my holidays will look like. The season is set to be a crazy dichotomy of excitement–because I get to see James, Sophia, and my brother and sister-in-law–and grief because I recognize our holidays will look different from here on out.
I know that the expectations I have for my holiday breaks must shift with the seasons. And with that knowledge comes some fear, some uncertainty that my siblings will continue to change life stages, creating a gap between us, or that the times we see each other will become more and more rare. For now, I realize that I am spoiled. I’m still not sure my spot as the youngest is ideal, but the three of us have a unique friendship. Our holiday traditions are inevitably intertwined because our lives are, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. For the first time, James, Sophia, and I aren’t in the same collective stage, but we still have the same love-instilled idea of siblings, and that is what has spoiled me the most.