December 15, 2019: Changing Traditions
The human soul can always use a new tradition. Sometimes we require them.”
There are many things I love about the holiday season; from the festive decorations and music, to the special foods and the joy of finding a meaningful gift for a loved one.
We celebrate Christmas, and over the years, I’ve collected literally hundreds of decorations. As each one is unpacked, the memory ghosts of Christmas float around, eliciting nostalgic smiles and sometimes sadness, like the handwritten note on an ornament from my beloved mother who is no longer with us.
These decorations always had a specific spot in our home. I knew exactly where each Santa would be placed. Just like my Christmas traditions always had a set precedent. Handwritten Christmas cards had to be out by a certain date, each beautifully wrapped present had to have a written note, and our Christmas Day had to follow a specific schedule ending with a full, sit down dinner with all of my children and their families.
Over time, I’ve learned the hard way, that maintaining these traditions have come at a cost. Ten years ago, when the pace of achieving holiday perfection, plus the stress of work, led to physical exhaustion and a serious bout of bronchitis. As a result, we had to reschedule Christmas. I spent the day feeling sorry for myself, reminiscing over past holidays and feeling guilty because I had somehow failed.
Yet when we actually got together a week later, it was an eye opener. Instead of racing from one family commitment to another in one day, we were all relaxed. The time together was not rushed, leading to acknowledgements of how much more my family enjoyed the time together.
The last two years, I’ve had invaluable help from friends in decorating for our Annual Artisan’s Holiday Open House. In working with others, I had to let go of “dictating” where each piece would go and have been actually delighted at our collaborative results. It wasn’t the same traditional displays, but the joy of seeing treasured pieces in new vignettes is undeniable.
I love our traditions, but have realized that to maintain strength and value, sometimes they have to be adapted, changed or on occasion even let go. For several years now, I wasn’t able to get my Christmas cards out. A wise friend told me to let that item on the checklist go, and “savor not stress” the season. Although I’m sending them this year, I now know that there are times when I can let go.
We are still having our granddaughters the night and day before Christmas Eve. Our traditions include: building a Christmas tree for the birds, setting up the Creche, reading special stories and watching favorite holiday movies. At seven and ten years old, they are still excited about these activities. On Christmas morning, we’ll visit their home and see what Santa brought and later visit with my elderly dad. But the rest of the day will be quiet, a time to savor and reflect on both new and treasured memories.
When our family or life situations change, our traditions can be impacted, but as I’ve discovered, these adaptations can truly be just as rewarding as the original ones. This year, Christmas dinner with the whole family will be celebrated later in the week at a more leisurely pace. Memories will once again be built to treasure in the years ahead.
What holiday traditions to you treasure?
December 15, 2019
Ahhhh Tradition! Tradition!!! (In the booming voice from Fiddler). As you said it brings such joy and sometimes sadness because it may be only a memory. A wonderful memory but a changed memory. One of our traditions like many families was to select and decorate the tree together. Everyone . Yes everyone. So as children grew, left for college and after we continued to wait until the last child (now grownup ) came home. One year that wasn’t until Christmas Eve afternoon and there we were cutting, decorating the tree that day with undue stress on everyone. That January when taking down the tree I tearfully made a decision. Next year— the tradition would change as life had—-
That December Gary and I went out alone, minus our 3 adult children and got OUR tree . Full circle, like our very first so many years before. We packed up the “children’s” treasured decorations and I bought all kinds of new ones. Their special ones are now with them and their families. Now each year I buy a few special new ones and happily enjoy the new traditions. My Christmas tree is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. It always has been and always will be. Merry Christmas!!❤️
December 15, 2019
Thank you so much Marcia for both reading and responding. Having grown children with their own families and responsibilities does have an impact on the way we share time and celebrate. It’s truly bittersweet as while we are happy that they have their full lives, it can be a sad time to let go of the way we celebrated and treasured memories of many years. But as you beautifully put it, you are making your own new traditions now, full circle, and finding joy in that. Merry Christmas to you sweet friend!
December 15, 2019
I love having all the kids her and grandkids . Everyone getting along and making great memories.
December 15, 2019
Thank you Pat for reading our blog and responding. The time we spend with loved ones as you said, is the real treasures of the holidays. Especially in today’s world, where everyone is busy juggling life and work. Taking a step back and savoring the time together is the holiday gift which is priceless.