the holiday season when the empty nest gets busy again

by Sharon Santoni

The holiday season is upon us, and it’s a moment when I stop to think about the way that the empty nest has changed our daily living here.

I think that many of you will know about the empty nest. That dull feeling in the pit of your stomach as your ‘little ones’ fly away to find their own paths and build their own lives. But after the initial shock, comes a new era: a reassessment of the daily routine; reappropriating of space in the house, and little by little, if we’re lucky, we rediscover the pleasures of living as a couple again, with time for each other, and the energy to embark on new adventures.

And then the Holiday season comes around, and suddenly that empty nest gets busy again, and it is a flurry of meals, and champagne, and laughter and gifts, and then more meals, a lot more.

I revel in these moments. The fun of laying the table for the whole family plus friends, the kitchen buzzing, the fridge filled with desserts, and the dogs trotting happily from one room to the next with the sure expectation of being petted by someone.

Decorating for the Holidays is a joyous blend of making the house look pretty, indulging in a new trend or two, and making everything as welcoming as possible… with a healthy dose of nostalgia thrown into the mix.

I try to make the decor a little different each year, but can’t help but smile when I hear the ‘kids’ recognize the tree ornaments they have known since they were little.

And even before the house fills up with family, and once the house is decorated, I love to invite friends over for dinner. Everyone is happy to find the house looking festive, and we enjoy slipping into Holiday mode together.

And across a boisterous table, now and again I catch the eye of my husband and we both smile a smile that means ‘this is wonderful, we’re loving every minute …. but the calm that will redescend after the storm will also be nice”


Lorrie Orr December 14, 2022 - 4:05 am

You’ve expressed the empty nest feelings perfectly. With 5 little grandchildren added to the mix here, we always say, “It’s wonderful when they all come, and it’s wonderful when they all leave.”
Having everyone around the table is such a joy.
Enjoy this busy season with your visiting children!

DD December 14, 2022 - 6:09 pm

Absolutely spot on! ❤️

Laura Warnock December 14, 2022 - 6:29 pm

You are a remarkable woman and I enjoyed reading your post today. In your photos there are always beautiful things around you, views of the landscape around you or your lovely garden. You seem not to forget to stay grounded. I love what you said about glancing across the table at your husband. I have experienced the empty nest, and indeed, it is true when the children return and see a familiar Christmas ornament, I love it. Have a joyous Christmas with your family.

Maria Norcia Santillanes on IG @marians December 14, 2022 - 8:36 pm

I love this time of year and having all the family come together. You have expressed the sentiment so well. I am delighted to have my son and his girl with me this year, and we are celebrating heartily.

I have to tell you that I love the ornaments on the chandelier. It brings back memories of my mother, who always decorated the chandeliers. I have not seen it done anywhere else except for yours.

Have a very merry Christmas!

Ceew December 14, 2022 - 10:54 pm

Lovely. Just lovely thoughts and so true.

Merry Christmas.

Cathy Blair December 15, 2022 - 12:00 am

I love all this. I also decorate our crystal chandelier and have fun doing it different each year to a theme.
Your details are exquisite, and I am lucky that I have 2 daughters that appreciate every sterlinglinencrystalrosenthalpewter piece we dine with. Thank you for the lovely inspiration!

Karen December 15, 2022 - 1:06 am

After 23 trips to France to live and enjoy and learn I hung up my apron from teaching people from around the world about Provence Cuisine. It was a wonderful time and the week long guests were without exception delightful! When we returned home this may we built a new room on our home in a totally French style {including my antique Santon collection} with a mini Monet flower garden surrounding the the room. Now we are looking forward to all the family returning home for Christmas and enjoying new and old traditions. I miss our home in Les Arcs sur Argens and our many friends there in the Var but hopefully next September we shall return for a short visit. Our home there was built in 801-804 ad and was the perfect place to welcome our students for a week…..Maison du Garde! Wishing you a very happy holiday and thanks for enjoyable articles.

franki Parde December 15, 2022 - 3:45 am

We have “reminders” EVERYWHERE of our children…oh, the happiest of times…it’s been “A Wonderful Life.” franki

Denise Duvall December 15, 2022 - 4:44 am

Joyeux Noel! Love how you decorated the chandelier!

Leslie in Oregon December 15, 2022 - 7:47 am

Thank you for this post. Maybe with your next post, you can include a photo of your wonderful dogs.

Gay McCormick December 15, 2022 - 4:54 pm

Yes. We do all know that terrible empty best feeling. But like you, a now love my time by myself ,and the many hobbies and interests I have time for. And the peace of a quiet night. But the doses of holiday mayhem are fantastic. Family and friends, and so much love in my home. We are lucky people indeed

Beth Richardson December 20, 2022 - 4:12 pm

Your post really resonated with me, but kind of in the reverse. We travel to our son and daughter-in-law‘s house to spend the holiday with our two grandchildren, ages, two and five. Our senses that we can’t wait to get there and we can’t wait to come home! Although we love being woken up by our 5 yr old grandson at 6 AM as he knocks on our bedroom door and runs in with his book for us to read to him, only after playing, hide and go seek three times in the bed, hiding under the sheets required… We look forward to a restful morning, where we wake on our own and don’t have to play hide and go seek …unless we really want to!
Joyeux Noel Sharon and thank you for a wonderful magazine and a delightful blog.


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