Our daughters are now 18 & 14. There are great advantages to the kids becoming more self-sufficient, and, though we try not to let them know it (joke--please don't comment!) we really do like them.
Yet, I miss having little ones in the house at Christmastime. The excitement, the mystery, the shopping at Toys r Us for that special thing that she's wanted ALL-MY-LIFE!!! The waking up at dawn to run down & see if Santa came... nope, it's not the same.
We put up our tree yesterday. I love doing that, and we usually do it earlier, but college-daughter threatened a melt-down if we did it before she came home, so we waited. We weren't going to put up the ornaments, but still...
My wife and I aren't very organized about most things. We are, however, extremely anal about the Christmas decorations, especially the ornaments. I'm glad we are. We take great care each year when we undecorate, putting things away very carefully. And, at my wife's insistence, we have developed a tradition regarding ornaments.
Every year since we were married, we have purchased a "family" ornament. Usually it's during our vacation, or it represents something major that's going on in our lives. We mark it, or the box it came in, with the year. So yesterday, as I was unwrapping the family ornaments, I pulled out, and announced to all, here's the train ornament from the Amish country; here's the adobe ornament from Arizona; here's the patriotic one from 2001; here's Mom & my first ornament from 1979.
This year our major vacation was a cruise with my brother & his family. We found a cruise-ship shaped ornament, and up it went on the tree, with 2004 marked discretely on the bottom of the ship.
With our daughters, we have been doing something more special. Each year, they each pick out an ornament, something based on what's going on in their lives that year. They each have their own box, and they keep a list on the cover of the year and the ornament.
Looking at the ornaments, and the years, is like a little snapshot of their lives. They track their growth, from Baby's First Christmas, through Sesame Street characters, to movies they liked (Little Mermaid, etc.) through sports they played (soccer, basketball) through teddy bears, through their interests as young adults (my eldest was captain of the track team-- we found her a hurdler ornament one year. My youngest is a bit less conventional. While not Goth, she likes to wear black band T-shirts, etc, and she likes to use her very dry wit to shock---last year she picked out a Charles Dicken's figure--the Ghost of Christmas Future!).
This year the elder got a Vanderbilt ornament, and the younger got an electric guitar ornament, both representing major happenings in their lives this year.
The plan is to have the girl's each take their ornaments with them when they start putting up their own tree. It's my wife's idea, and I think it is a great one, but I may have difficulty parting with the ornaments. The girls? They can go. But the ornaments, I think I may want to keep.