For the course of my life, we've always been with extended family: with my parents (of course) and sister and my maternal grandparents through high school. In college, I came home for a bigger set of family - aunts, uncle, cousins, eventually a brother in-law as well. When The Ravishing Mrs. TB and I got married, I added another layer: in-laws and sister in-law and another set of aunt, uncle and cousins.
The arrival of children just meant we went more places: one day with my parents, one day with my in-laws, and occasional meanderings through the homes of other relatives. They were only 2 hours apart, so it hardly a stretch that we wouldn't see everyone during the Christmas season.
And this year, we will be by ourselves in New Home.
I'm not necessarily overly sad about it - I mean, compared to the sacrifices so many people actually make, this is a little thing. And it's not as if we're alone - we have Na Clann, which I'm sure will keep things interesting enough with the de-packaging and assembly of various Christmas arrivals. They'll not be an absence of joy or Christmas here.
I suppose the thing that made me start about it more is simply that it is happening - the sort of milestone that one realizes one has passed only after the car has flashed by it. It's more the realization of something being different than something missing that makes it interesting to me.
Sometimes the change in the season of life is so subtle that it escapes even ourselves.