Being an empty-nest parent changed my Black Friday traditions

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Our family used to be the typical get up at dawn, grab donuts and stand in line in front of the department store kind of gang every Black Friday. We would load up in the minivan with the kids still full from the Thanksgiving feast, bundled up against the chilly November air and set off at 7 a.m. I would always have my first eggnog of the season and enjoy the sound of carols and twinkling lights.

Sometimes, we would be greeted by other families we knew who had managed to get out of the house a little earlier and were standing outside of the store waiting for it to open. The kids would run around with the other children, dashing through the aisles and hiding under the racks as my husband and I would try to be sneaky about our holiday gifts hidden under ugly sweaters and underwear.

The kids have all grown up, and my husband and I are learning how to make new traditions and how to be OK with the holidays without food fights and standing in lines waiting for the newest toys. It’s different, navigating the world without holding tightly to little hands.

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