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By: Jacqueline Hirt ’12

After nearly three months away the semester’s end is fast approaching and Thanksgiving is upon us. An exciting October has now concluded and Gonzaga is fortunate enough to be moving forward with a new President, another successful Fall Family and Alumni weekend, and the return of our festive Halloween costumes to storage. As students the homecoming to a fully stocked fridge, familiar bed and being surrounded by loved ones is a gift that feels long overdue. As parents the anticipation of the holidays comes with having your children home once again. However, this does not mean that integrating family life with your children’s newly independent lifestyle is an easy task. In fact, after experiencing new responsibilities that allow new freedoms expect a change in your child’s outlook on house rules and a 10 PM curfew. For my parents, my brother, and myself we’ve found that the holidays present a hectic and limited period of time with a never-ending list of activities and faces to see.

Since my brother and I have both been attending Gonzaga my parents home has definitely been a new environment for the empty nesters. They jokingly insist that the party really began when the two of us left for GU and I must say I have definitely seen a change in their own freedoms. Suddenly their social life is always buzzing and they’ve even found a new addiction to the television show LOST.  This was not the feel of the first few holidays home. Instead their expectations of seeing us were much greater and adjusting to our shortly unified lives was hard to adapt to. My Dad had difficulty placing expectations of seeing us for long periods of time since we were all managing many schedules and visits. We were still able to designate specific occasions to quality family time, however our trips never seem long enough and it has become clear that we left home for both college and our next stage of life.

As I look forward to my homecoming my mind also travels to the expectations of spending time with family while managing a social calendar filled with break activities. The idea of not spending enough quality time with loved ones is a constant worry, and of course we still want to squeeze in every last bit of fun. While life at college allows us to be truly independent for the first time, returning home for the holidays can be a difficult transition to make. As both child and parent, the relationship you hold may be developing into a new chapter. For myself, I now look to my parents as intimate friends and my primary role models who I seek advice from on a variety of life decisions. My respect for our relationship has grown immensely since being away from them and I look forward to the holidays for the time we can share together– even in its craziness.

Regardless of everyone’s frenzied schedule, remember these times for the opportunity to be thankful and present with the people who matter most. While family traditions and relationships may be changing the significance of the holidays is still centered on being together.

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