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Have kids, will travel

Mindy Ward car driving down the road
TAKE A TRIP: This year was our third time traveling to Ohio for the holidays. My husband and I have abandoned our mantra of “home for the holidays,” and we go visit our adult children. We understand what it is like to live far away from the farm, because we were once those kids.
Grown children need the support of their parents when they move away from the farm.

One try. That is all it took to find the roasting pan at my daughter’s home. For 20 years, she spent the holidays at our home, but for the past three years, we forged a new family tradition and traveled to Ohio. Honestly, it’s not about where you spend the holidays; it is about who you share them with.

For 10 years early in my marriage, my husband and I lived more than 14 hours away from our home state of Missouri. His job took him to Minnesota. Every year, we would pack up the kids and travel home for the holidays, trying to visit two families in one trip over short weekends.

Don’t get me wrong, we loved spending time with them. But honestly, by the time we made it back to our new home, we were exhausted. The joy of the journey gone.

When my eldest married and her husband’s job took her two states away, I knew exactly how she felt. I lived it. The pressure to come home. The pressure to visit everyone. The pressure to be happy every minute. So, I vowed to change the narrative.

Making a new start

Agriculture careers took us to another state. It was the same for our daughter and her husband. I could not fault them for moving away. It was a great opportunity to expand their horizons and take an adventure. I was proud of the life they created. I was going to support it, by simply being there.

Too often as we age, we trap ourselves into thinking the kids should come to us, especially around the holidays. We rely on the mantra, “It’s tradition.” Family holidays are always at our house or grandma’s house. But isn’t there room for new traditions?

I absolutely love visiting them on Thanksgiving. Why? My son-in-law does most of the cooking! I never even knew how to spatchcock a turkey until he did it. His seasoning of the bird is always amazing — I eat the skin more than the meat.

He makes green bean casserole and amazing mashed potatoes. My daughters and I contribute to the homemade crescent rolls and apple pie. Yes, our other child and her husband also make the trek with us to Ohio. This has become our tradition.

Word of advice

If there is one thing I can tell fellow parents of children who live far away: visit often.

As an empty nester, I have time. I committed to seeing my girl every month. And with only a few exceptions, I’ve kept that promise. In fact, I’ve visited so often that I know the layout of her kitchen, how she stores the extra blankets in a closet and where to find that roasting pan — in her basement storage tote.

Do not let another year go by wishing you spent more time with your adult child who is far away from home. For that matter, make sure you visit the ones who live simply an hour or two away. Leave the guilt. Get in the car. Drive a few miles. Spend the time.

Our kids, no matter the age, need us. They need our support to know that while they miss their home in the country, they are doing amazing things wherever they live. Encourage them. Build them up. Create traditions. Be family.

Mindy WardCassidy Kilpack, Elisa Jaouni and Mindy Ward

TRADITION CONTINUES: Whether we were in Missouri or now in Ohio for the holidays, one thing remains the same — shopping with my two girls, Cassidy Kilpack (left) and Elisa Jaouni (center). It’s not about getting the Black Friday deals, but the time we spend together. OK, maybe a little about the deals!

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