Traditions…. we are all for it, especially when it comes to the holidays! But sometimes, certain holiday traditions don’t make sense to continue. There were some classic traditions in my family for every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year — regardless of whether we actually enjoyed them. So I, as a parent, vowed to discontinue those traditions and create our own!
Yes, I’ve always been a rule breaker and it all started with Mom… so don’t blame me. For example, my mom NEVER cooked a Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of the week. We always held Thanksgiving on Saturday — and we ate steaks, baked potatoes, and peanut butter pie. And it was never as stressful as preparing a feast on a Thursday after you worked all week and then had to go back to work on Friday! (By the way, I hate turkey.)
Some traditions can grow stale… and drag you down
Another holiday tradition that sticks out in my mind: waiting in the endless line to see Santa with my drooling brother in our fancy little outfits waiting to sit on some strange fat dude’s lap and ask for things we knew we wouldn’t get. Oh, the fun we had. Then there were the times we almost had a heatstroke posing in fuzzy sweaters during the summer for the soon-to-be Christmas photo, which would inevitably be sent out via snail-mail in cards nobody read. Sound stale? Yep.
How to create new holiday traditions
So over time, I QUIT! I stopped doing all the things you are “supposed” to do during the holidays. I’ve made other magical memories of the season with my family – my way – instead of just going through the motions.
Like Santa and sweaters, did I do any of that while my daughter was growing up? Nope. Never. Not once. Instead of taking her to visit Santa, I decided we would be part of a program in which volunteers called kids on the phone. And, instead of stressing myself out over clothing and photographers and addresses I just skipped them altogether. Instead, we call or visit or use social media. Cause it’s 2018, you know!
The benefits of new traditions
I’m not a Scrooge or a Grinch, mind you. I just find the holidays to be a lot more relaxing and enjoyable if I’m talking to and spending time with people rather than just keeping busy. When my daughter asks for the Christmas tree to go up, I put it up… because it’s in a box. In the garage. It’s fake and it’s easy. Who am I trying to impress?
I just want to play music, drink eggnog and enjoy the time I am spending with her decorating the tree and house, rather than dealing with a live tree that dies (and may or may not be infested with spider eggs nestled inside.) Plus, our entire Christmas collection of ornaments and décor was purchased during family vacations; we spend the time we save by having a fake tree on quality family time together. They DO grow up WAY too fast, and every moment is precious.
Another example: my millennial friend just told me that the only family heirloom he has is a .410 shotgun from his great-grandmother. He said he is creating his own family traditions and building those family heirlooms to be passed on. When his daughter was born, he bought a set of pearls that she will pass along to her baby sister when she gets married. He has also set out to find Christmas gifts of jewelry and other items for his wife that could be passed down through the ages. What a wonderful and unique tradition to create – and it might not have been created if he were busy filling out cards and licking stamps.
Do what you love during the holidays. Simple.
The wisdom I wish to impress upon you all? Is that you don’t have to keep up a holiday tradition just because it’s “always been that way.” Doing what we love and changing things up a bit every year really gives our family peace, plus the ability to find new things we enjoy to do together. Breaking with the norm isn’t a slap in the face to your childhood. Create new memories, and own your holidays – you got this!
Originally Published November 2018 – Featured November 2019