AS A FAMILY GROWS, so too does its traditions. Whether for birthdays, graduations or holidays, family gatherings help cement the bond between generations.
Quite often these important celebrations take place at Mom and Dad’s house. For adult children, it is relaxing in familiar surroundings that transports them back to the nest, a place of childhood comforts and memories of life without a care. For grandchildren, it is the special attention and unconditional love they receive. This home becomes the heart and soul of the extended family. So how can you possibly consider downsizing and leaving this behind?
“I wasn’t prepared to give up being the centre of all my family get-togethers,” admits Julie. “I loved
the fact that everyone came to us for holidays and celebrations. Because I was the one who shopped, cooked and got everything ready, I felt special and needed.” So when her husband Al told Julie he was tired of the maintenance on their large four-bedroom house and suggested they downsize, she was devastated.
“I kept telling Julie it’s not where we get together, it’s how,” explains Al. Last year, Julie and Al moved to a 55-plus community, steps away from a lake. As the first family occasion drew near, Julie spent sleepless nights wondering how she was going to cater for 20 in her beautifully appointed but now considerably smaller kitchen. With only a patio and deck that looked out onto the lake, where would the grandchildren play?
It was over coffee with her new neighbour that Julie’s problems were instantly solved. Her neighbour told Julie about family gatherings she and her husband host in the development’s Community Centre. She explained that for a small fee the centre can be booked for the day, and it comes complete with a fully equipped kitchen with everything you need to accommodate up to 200. The Centre also has barbecues and a games room. Julie immediately knew how to entertain everyone.
“Since moving, we’re establishing new traditions for all occasions that everyone loves,” says Al. During the first year in their new home, the couple have hosted many celebrations. Al has arranged golf foursomes for the generations who enjoy the game, followed by lunch at the clubhouse with the rest of the family. The lake next to Julie and Al’s home is perfect for boating and water sports during the summer, with a barbecue meal on the Centre patio afterwards.
Most memorable for Julie and Al is the winter holiday family gathering last December: “We snow-shoed along the walks that surround our property, amid the snow-covered pine trees, it was magical,” recalls Julie. “Our grandchildren were thrilled and want to do this every year. Now I am sorry that we didn’t move here earlier!”