Christmas is one week away, and it looks a lot like Christmas around our house! Well, except for there’s no snow. That’s a bummer. But our decorations are up, the gifts are wrapped, and the first draft of our holiday celebrations schedule is set. The schedule is full of wonderful traditions, as well as a few unusual things we’re fitting in this year.
As I sat down to think through the busy week between Christmas and New Years, I realized how the traditions I counted on as a child have evolved over the years. Are traditions important to you, or do you prefer to be flexible? I love traditions, but I’ve realized lately that traditions are no fun if I can’t be flexible, too.
From the time I can remember up until I got married, I did the same things at the same times at the same places to celebrate the holidays. That might seem boring to some, but as someone who craves familiarity I LOVED it! Each celebration had its own unique flow to make it special, and I was content to celebrate the holidays this way forever and ever.
But that wasn’t realistic. When I got married I had a whole new family with their own holiday traditions. Our first Christmas as a married couple, we tried to fit in every tradition and gathering from both sides of the family. It seemed like a good idea. Twice the merriment! Twice the celebration! Twice the holiday spirit!
It was a disaster. Two newlywed introverts can’t attend eight family gatherings in two days and remain happy, pleasant, and sane. I wanted so bad for it to be possible, but it just wasn’t. I refused to let any tradition go, and therefore I didn’t enjoy any of them. I learned a lot from that holiday season, but three of my biggest takeaways formed how we’ve planned our holidays ever since.
A tradition is still a tradition, even if you don’t participate every year.
It’s still a tradition to go to my dad’s parents’ house Christmas day morning, even if we haven’t been able to go for the past couple years. It’s still a tradition for my husband’s family to play a white elephant gift exchange game, even if they only do that some Christmases. Traditions are special things we enjoy doing over and over, but over and over can mean whatever you want. Annually, bi-annually, every now and again, ...you get the idea.
Traditions don’t have to be big.
The holiday traditions of my childhood were big. Whole mornings or afternoons devoted to a group of family and friends. That’s wonderful, but traditions are not required to be a Big Deal. One small thing my husband and I do every year around Christmas is watch the Polar Express and drink hot chocolate (we find the “Hot Chocolate” song in the movie highly amusing). We did this a few years in a row before I even realized it was a tradition! Simply watching a movie while drinking hot cocoa didn’t seem grand enough to be a tradition, but it certainly is. In fact, it’s the tradition I look forward to most now.
Try to be flexible as best you can.
I’m not a very easy going person. I really wish I could change this about myself, but being chill just isn’t my nature. However, I know I will be happier if I realize when I’m being intense and inflexible and try to move past it. It’s not realistic to have every minute of the holiday season planned and set by labor day. I need to be patient and accept that not every moment can be planned and perfect. In fact, some of best memories come from the unexpected moments.
However you celebrate the holidays, I hope it’s full of wonderful traditions and spontaneous fun that you’ll remember fondly.
Questions: Do you love traditions, or prefer to go with the flow? What are your favorite traditions? Do you have any traditions you'd like to start?