15 Things I Miss During the Holidays in My Empty Nest (Cookies!)

Most of the year, the empty nest is good.

Though I miss my kids when I don’t see them or hear from them often enough, my husband and I have adapted quite nicely to a home that’s just the two of us and our dogs. But somewhere around mid-October, I start to feel the emptiness a little bit more, as the holiday season begins, and it continues all the way through the new year.

 Here are 15 things I miss.

  1. There are no bags of Halloween candy to rummage through in search of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
  2. It’s not much fun to carve a pumpkin without kids.
  3. Because there’s no pumpkin carving, there are no roasted, salted pumpkin seeds.
  4. Decorations look pretty but there’s no one wide-eyed and excited by it all.
  5. There are no little faces to sit with and watch the holiday specials, especially anything Peanuts-related.
  6. *There’s no excuse for me to bake as often as I would like (love).
  7. There are no kids to help with the Thanksgiving meal prep, which seems to take nearly the entire month of November.
  8. There are no teens to send out for forgotten ingredients for the Thanksgiving meal prep. This is a major inconvenience.
  9. Gifts for grown kids tend to be of the large, expensive variety, which keeps shopping to a minimum. For most, this would be a benefit, but for me, it’s not as much fun.
  10. Saying the blessing over the Hanukkah candles is kind of blah without children’s voices.
  11. Likewise, lighting the candles without giving gifts to excited little children afterward lacks a little something.
  12. As a dual-religion household, I loved filling my kids and their cousins’ stockings for Christmas morning. Not as much fun anymore.
  13. No handmade gifts from little kids with handprints or scribbles.
  14. The homes decorated with lights, reindeer, Santas and more, while still delightful, are little less magical without sharing them with a child.
  15. Giving to those less fortunate during the holidays was an opportunity to remind my kids how nice their lives were. And still are.

*Though I don’t bake as much as I’d like, I bake whenever I’m asked to bring something to a party or dinner – and one of the most popular cookies I make are these sweet and spicy cookies from Cooking Light.

Chocolate cookie recipe, cooking light, mexican chocolate cookies, holidays, empty nest, halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah
Photo courtesy Cooking LIght


5 ounces bittersweet (60 percent cacao) chocolate, coarsely chopped
3.4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash black pepper
Dash ground red pepper
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Place chocolate in a small glass bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. COOL to room temperature.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.  Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through ground red pepper); stir well with a whisk.
4. Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add egg; beat well. Add cooled chocolate and vanilla; beat just until blended. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended. Drop dough by level tablespoons 2 inches apart on baking sheets line with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until almost set. Remove from oven. Cool on pans 2 minutes or until set. Remove from pans; cool completely on a wire rack. Yield: 32 cookies.

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