Sometimes Christmas just doesn’t turn out looking like we think it should.

In spite of thirteen weeks of planning, and even getting my Christmas cards out for the first time in about ten years, this Christmas was hard.

It wasn’t because of money; God provided plenty of work. It wasn’t because of unfulfilled Christmas wishes; I didn’t have any. In fact, in many ways it was a very sweet Christmas, filled with some of the most inexpensive, yet profoundly thoughtful, gifts I’ve ever received.

However, that’s seeing it in retrospect. After spending the bulk of Christmas Eve on the verge of tears, I finally realized what was really wrong.

Everything has changed — everything.

The Christmas stockings hanging on the mantle that I love so dearly remained empty. The little girls whose Christmas dresses they were made of were not here. All but two out of the six were miles away, busy creating Christmas for their own families. My little boys are both men now. There were no Brio Mec building sets under the tree for them, no wooden trains or slingshots.

Although we were blessed with a house full of friends and some family on Christmas Eve, and woke to the grins of six grandchildren and one thoroughly excited teenager, the house still felt empty. There were just too many faces missing. I wasn’t the only one that felt it.

I know. Children grow up.

This year, I made a decision. I’m changing everything. If I can’t have it the way it was, then fine. I’ll create a new normal.