I’ve written before of my mother’s death. I tried to keep her traditions alive but eventually everyone in my family wanted to do their own thing. For the past four years our family’s thing was a ski trip over Christmas. It is our family gift and you are guaranteed a White Christmas.

Our trip is a response to the crushing reality when our boys stopped Believing in Santa. Every parent knows this transition. It’s a bummer. Also, everyone remembers when they found out themselves. My oldest son helped us play Santa to keep the secret for his little brother. Fortunately, my boys hung on longer because as my oldest puts it, “Mom and Dad you were STEALTH.” My boys really got creative trying to catch Santa. One year when their belief was waning, they set up a camera to try to catch him. My stealth husband garnered dark boots and moved the camera so it was only a foot shot. We suspended belief for another year.

The following year, per tradition, we spent Christmas Eve at our neighbor and good friend’s home. The kids always tracked Santa on the NORAD website. My husband snuck out and Santa arrived early. When we got home, ironically that year it was snowing, their gifts were under the tree. Usually we celebrate Christmas morning, so this freaked our sons out-but they believed! Unfortunately, that was the last year. My husband got busted playing tooth fairy and the gig was up. Christmas skiing began.

This year my boys wanted to bring a friend skiing. To accommodate, our trip is after Christmas. Since we will be home this year for Christmas, my oldest son wants to do a Throwback Christmas (#tbc) – we act like we did when they were little and believed. So they are writing a letter to Santa, we are going to make cookies etc. – Old School. I asked, “Does this mean you have to go to bed early?” They said, “No we sleep later, so you can do Santa in the morning.” Teenagers…I tried.

We always decorate the Sunday after Thanksgiving. This year we spent Thanksgiving at my sisters. Our past tradition was to spend it at our lake house. We celebrated with Mary, who I call my second mother, and her family. It was always fun. We didn’t do it this year because she was sick. When I returned from my sisters’, I got a call from Mary’s daughter letting me know that Mary had died. It was her time, and she had her affairs in order because I encouraged her to do so.

I don’t know if it was because the boys knew I was sad about Mary, or it was part of the Throwback Christmas (#tbc), but decorating that evening was a joy. My oldest was especially into it. We reminisced about past Christmases and while my eldest was helping cleanup – which is a Christmas miracle in itself – he said, “Mom, it’s better when you BELIEVE”.