This fall we sent our son Hap off to college. My emotions waffled somewhere between elation and pride to wanting to lay down and cry. It's tough to lose the daily presence of your children. I got the first taste of this when my daughter, Lindsey (Bird) set sail to the University of Kentucky three years ago. I was overjoyed to watch her spread her wings, but I really was surprised by the small things that I missed. Although both of my kids have always been independent, they always sought our advice, even on the little things. I find I miss those daily "I need you, Mom" moments the most.
Whatever empty-nest emotions I am feeling at home are tempered by the fact that Hap choose UK as his college path. I'm comforted knowing Hap and Bird are there for each other for Hap's freshman year. Bird will graduate in May and is preparing for new adventures, but knowing she is in Lexington looking out for her little brother as he acclimates to being away from home eases my mind. Bird and Hap have always shared a special bond. When they were in high school, every Wednesday night just the 2 of them went to Willy's for burritos after their sports practices and they've continued that tradition in Lexington. Taco Tuesdays, that says it all for me!
I can't wait to have my kiddos home with us this Holiday. We will pick right back up with some of our favorite Howell family holiday traditions. Picking out our tree is a family affair. We have waited late in the season for Bird to get home from break the last three years, so I know from experience that our selection will be bleak. Our tree will resemble something from a Charlie Brown Christmas Special, and we will laugh at how crooked and bare it is once we get it home and decorated. My husband, Ward, will take the kids to Walmart to pay off a few layaway accounts for families in need. This has been an annual gifting mission they share with their dad since they were little.
In between those special Holiday traditions, I'm looking forward to sharing some family time doing our favorite hometown things. Atlanta is full of interesting pockets of culture, and we love to explore new eateries along the Buford Highway corridor or shop for vintage clothing down in Little Five Points, thrift shopping, and trips to Sonic for slushies and tots.
My heart is full of happy anticipation as we draw closer to Hap and Bird coming home for the holiday break, I'm busy preparing their rooms and stocking the kitchen with their favorite foods. I can't wait for that first morning -- after a good night's rest, knowing all my family is home in the nest.
From our nest to yours, we wish you a warm and happy holiday season.
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