I absolutely love the holidays. I love all the food and decorations, the get-togethers with family and friends, and the tradition and ceremony of it all. From late November until early January, we are guaranteed to turn inward a little more and focus on what’s most important in our lives and count our blessings. I think the nature of the season lends itself to the holiday season. It’s colder, darker, we’re looking to huddle down in our homes and wait it out. But how do you handle changing holiday traditions?
Growing up, it was tradition to celebrate those six weeks in a certain fashion every year. We would eat turkey at an aunt’s house for Thanksgiving. My mom always ensured that we baked dozens upon dozens of cookies even though we’d never be able to eat them all before they turned stale. We would open presents on Christmas morning, have breakfast, and then dress and without fail be at my grandparents’ home by the afternoon to celebrate with my mom’s very large family. Growing up that’s how it always was.
As I grew older though, things began to change including long standing holiday traditions. New members joined our family. New friends were made. New jobs limited the time we had to spend with those closest to us. It wasn’t a big challenge for us in the beginning of all these changes. But then our own family grew and grew again and our priorities needed to adjust to accommodate our newest members. And now we’re facing new adjustments to accommodate the latest change in our lives.
We didn’t go back to New Jersey for Thanksgiving with our family last week. We were burnt out on traveling and playing the pinball game that is visiting all the families in one visit. It’s not fair to the kids to be uprooted from their home and spend a majority of the time in the car, especially on a holiday. So instead, we stayed in our new home and celebrated with our little family. I, being the strongest adherent to tradition, thought the day wouldn’t really resemble a holiday. I was worried that this would be the choice we’d face for every holiday…an arduous travel schedule or a holiday that wasn’t really holiday-ish. I thought that we were going to be forced to constantly face the repercussions of changing holiday traditions for the sake of our sanity.
It turns out it wasn’t the letdown I was expecting. It was different, definitely not as boisterous, but it was festive. We put forth a little more effort than just planning a turkey dinner. The kids were involved in helping plan and prepare our meal. We shared a movie the night before to set us in the holiday movie. We had a breakfast we normally wouldn’t have, and we broke the rules and let the kids eat snacks in front of the television until dinnertime. There weren’t any other expectations for the day other than to spend it together. And it turned out to be a great day with a holiday feel.
We’ll be spending our Christmas the same way, just the four of us in our own home. We’ll visit with our families the weekend before and uphold some of the traditions that have developed over the years. But on the actual holiday, we’ll limit our expectations, develop our own traditions, and make the day a holiday on our own.
How do you spend your holidays?