Creating traditions with a second family


Looking for similarities away from home for first Christmas ever


For the first time in my life, my family celebrated the Christmas holiday without me. My heart sank when I found out that I was lucky enough to work the Christmas newspaper scanner rotation. This marked the moment I became an adult, and it wasn’t fun.

Christmas Day had a different feel. I didn’t wake up in the same bed I have slept in since I was seven. I didn’t get to gaze up at the Christmas tree with my collection of ornaments and I wasn’t able to hear the chatter of my mom, sister and grandma as they cooked dinner.

Growing up, Christmas morning consisted of waking up before the sun and waiting for what seemed like forever for my dad to let the dogs out and make a cup of coffee. While we waited, my sister and I would look to see if it was snowing outside. Once my dad was ready, we could sprint down the stairs to see what Santa had left.

As everyone got settled, my sister passed out presents, Then one at a time, we opened, admired and showed them off.

Following presents, we shared some of Grandma’s homemade cinnamon rolls. No other cinnamon roll compares to her homemade roll made with thick, sweet icing. As they baked in the oven the night before, the kitchen filled with the smell of cinnamon and sugar.

After breakfast, we headed back to the living room, hot chocolate in hand, to work on a puzzle or play a new game, all while admiring the white, fluffy snow falling.

The whole day was quiet and spent with family.

I spent Christmas this year in Fredericksburg, away from my family, surrounded by my new family.

Last week, my boyfriend proposed and I spent Christmas with my fiancé and his family for the first time.

I woke up early Christmas morning, like I would at home in Colorado. As others made their way to the living room, it was almost the same routine. We waited until the coffee was brewed and everyone was arranged in their spots before the youngest Moellering sibling handed out the gifts.

When everything was opened, we headed to the table for a meal. By some miracle, there were cinnamon rolls. While they weren’t my grandma’s, it was nice to have something that felt like home.

We spent the rest of the day playing games and talking, while 804 miles away, the same activities were taking place.

While everything seemed normal, I felt half empty.

I missed my mom opening her gift of a snowman to add her collection, my dad’s face lighting up as he opened the present bought himself but wrapped by my mom, my sister walking around in Christmas pajamas and all her other presents and hearing my dogs chew on their Christmas bones surrounded by piles of tissue paper and bows.

My family and I text every day and call each other at least four times a week. Christmas was the one day we all got to spend together, until now.

Although I was thankful to travel home for four days before Christmas, it didn’t feel right being away on Christmas Day.

After the day ended, my fiancé and I talked about how we hoped to celebrate with my family next year.

While it was hard being away, I was blessed to have a second family that made things feel as normal as they could be.

While the Christmas spirit was still there, it revolved less around gifts and more around the people that mattered most.