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Life’s a Beach By Shelley Murphy

By Shelley Murphy

I’m not a fan of frightening costumes, carving pumpkins, or haunting decorations; in fact, I abhor Halloween.

When my sons were small, my husband took them trick-or-treating while I stayed at home perusing family photos for that year’s Christmas card.

Halloween is my cue to dive straight into November and December holiday planning.

It’s easy to make plans when you’re the one calling the shots. Back in the day, I could cart my kids off on a week-long vacation over the Thanksgiving break or elect to host an elaborate six-course feast without any flack.

When my boys left for college, I relished the ritual of their return home for the holidays (they enjoyed the daily dining, laundering, and housekeeping services).

It stung when my sons headed back to campus, but at least I could count on their return home the next holiday or university break.

Now, after almost two years of chaos and change, I’m looking forward to restoring old holiday habits.

As soon as pumpkin lattes began brewing, I broached the subject of the holidays with my older son, who lives with his girlfriend of three years in the Bay Area.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: So, what are your plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Him: I told you I don’t know.

Me: When will you know your plans?

Him: I don’t know.

Me: That is not an answer.

Him: You are making my life miserable over this!

Me: Same!

After that conversation, my son claimed I overreact (go figure!) and said his future holiday communications would go through a neutral third party—his father/my husband.

I blame a lot of my holiday planning frustration on biology—I am a boy mom. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a boy mom, but it’s a tricky title with an even trickier expiration date.

Thank goodness, I have a beloved girlfriend who understands my predicament and empathizes with me—she’s mom to three boys. We share an easy friendship, and when we reunite, we fall into a familiar rhythm.

Together, we get to grouse about the not-so-good things that come with being boy moms. She’s withstood the tasks of trying to plan events, holidays, and vacations with three boys, plus three significant others.

During our last walk, we conceded, as boy moms, we had it great up until college graduation; that’s about the time things went off the rails. Or, one could say, that’s when we lost control.

My girlfriend is wise and often offers me sage advice.

While discussing the upcoming holiday season, she suggested I try not to get hung up about celebrating on the day (but nothing is better than being together Christmas morning); try not to hold so tight to certain traditions (but the Thanksgiving dessert made once a year is the best); and try to remember my son has another family to accommodate (but we all want to spend the same holiday time together).

After our talk, I accepted (somewhat) that I don’t have a say in my son’s plans; so, I resolved to stop asking and begin planning for the approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

I wasn’t quite at peace with my decision, but time marches on and, like my girlfriend and I agreed, we had a good run.

But then, just as my substitute plans were taking shape, my husband received an exciting text from my older son. It detailed the flights he and his girlfriend booked for their visit with us over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Soon after, my son called and shared even better news with me—they’d made their travel plans for Christmas, and their trip includes a holiday stay at home.

In the future, I’ll try to heed my girlfriend’s astute advice, but right now I have a lot of holiday planning to do.

For more than 20 years, Shelley Murphy and her husband have lived in San Clemente, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to the San Clemente Times since 2006.

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