[Kelly’s Newspaper Column]
There is nothing wrong with family traditions. They provide comfort and great memories. The transmission of customs from generation to generation builds bonds and a sense of belonging. Traditions are most evident at the holidays and if one is too stringent about theirs, it can cause more grief than joy.
“But we always do it this way” are not words I am prone to utter, and I don’t bash tradition either. Do I put up a Christmas tree every year? Yes. Does it go in the same place? No. Do I decorate the same way every year? No. The most trees I have ever put up is eleven (of which two were real) and many years I do only one. This year, we plan to do three.
The style and magnitude of decorating varies each year, and I like variety. Luckily my Prince Charming is a go with the flow fellow who is a creative and adventurous decorator himself. We enjoy decking our halls together. Perhaps that is a “tradition” we have created.
My children are no longer children and as long as there are cookies and their favorite treats, they’re happy. I still do stockings for them on Christmas morning, so I guess there are some traditions I hold dear.
Not everyone shares my loosey goosey attitude. Many folks cherish their traditions and would feel lost if they didn’t do what they always do. The heart of the matter is – if it feels good, do it.
If you love your traditions, revel in them! If you want to shake things up, shake things up! Instead of the same meal at the same time at the same place on the same dishes with the same tablecloth, go for a family hike in the woods or serve the holiday meal at the homeless shelter or make grilled cheese and play board games. It is your season to eat, drink, and be merry so don’t forget the merry.
Create your own traditions. I read of a young family who come home from church on Christmas Eve to find that the REINDEER have popped in early to leave them each a present. The reindeer leave a note saying that they are checking on the location of the stockings for Santa and tell the kids to get to bed early. This mom says her kids love it. Reindeer bringing gifts is a new one on me, but so be it.
Another gal wrote that when she was growing up, her mother was exhausted preparing two huge meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so one year Mom got Chinese takeout for the family on Christmas Eve. They all loved it and Mom could enjoy time with her kids. Now this woman is grown and Chinese food on Christmas Eve is her tradition with her kids.
I love that and yet I know some would be appalled because they love making all their special traditional food from their family culture. Wonderful. Some go out for a fancy dressed up dinner. Super. One family makes burgers and fries at home. There is no right or wrong, only joy.
Some families open their gifts on Christmas Eve, some on Christmas morning, and some at midnight at Christmas Eve. I would like that, and then we could all sleep in.
As the holidays approach, ponder what you love and do that. If it’s a movie marathon, have at it. If it’s doing something different every year, that itself can become your tradition. No matter what, take time to savor the moments and have a holly jolly time. Tis the season.