We all have holiday traditions that we love. I can remember the first year my babies were old enough to ooh and ahh over the beautiful lights and sparkly ornaments as I pulled them out of the box. I carefully packed them away each year so that they could safely unpack a particular box that only had the soft, child safe ornaments. Each year, we spent time looking at the ornaments, playing with the Fisher Price Nativity under the tree and writing their letters to Santa while we drank milk and ate cookies.
Holiday Traditions Grow & Evolve over Time
As a teenager, I remember the smell of pumpkin bread baking while we decorated the tree, listening to Christmas music. I will never forget the excitement of listening for the reindeer hooves as I fell asleep at my Grandma’s house and waking up to the toys and stuffed animals sitting out under the tree.
But the thing about traditions is that people change. If we try too hard to keep the traditions the very same every year, then traditions lose their joy. They are no longer the spontaneous fun events; instead, the traditions become forced and people are disappointed because they can’t achieve the same feelings of holiday spirit as they did in years past.
As kids get older, they may no longer want to spend all day trimming the tree as a major family adventure. Last year, I directed the building of the tree and oversaw the unpacking of each box of ornaments as we turned the tree into a thing of beauty.
But this year, I turned it over to my kids. They are old enough to want the satisfaction of doing as much of it as possible by themselves. As I watched their sense of pride and accomplishment, I realized that the amazing thing about traditions is that they evolve with time.
I have watched my parents make new traditions as we have grown up. Sometimes they have spent Christmas morning walking the beach and making new traditions of their own. I’ve seen them hop on an airplane and venture to new states and have new experiences. As me and my siblings have started family traditions with our kids, my parents have begun new holiday traditions of their own.
We still get together every year to celebrate the season, but we do it a little differently. Sometimes we gather and go to the zoo or the Horse Park to enjoy the tree lights and then finish up the time together opening presents and enjoying chocolate chip cake. One tradition that we hold on to and don’t want to lose is the time we spend around the Christmas tree quoting the Luke 2 Christmas story.
Over time, traditions must change and evolve as the family gets older. But some things stay the same. The importance of spending time together, exchanging small gifts, singing a carol or two and reading the Christmas story are just a few of the traditions that we don’t want to lose. The other things like where we spend Christmas, what we do as a family or where we go to celebrate are things that can evolve with time.
My Favorite Tradition
I love spending a few minutes each Christmas season flipping through my Christmas scrapbook! I have pictures from most of our Christmas celebrations since 1993 when my husband and I first got engaged. Click on the picture to read about my holiday scrapbook memories.
Prioritize Your Holiday Traditions:
With Christmas just a few days away, many people are feeling the stress of the holidays. Take a few minutes and think about the things you are committed to doing these next few days. Have you planned for what really matters? Is there anything you can cross off the list to make your holidays a little more fun and meaningful?
What are your holiday traditions? Do you plan to attend a Christmas Eve service? Do you go caroling with your church or work group? Are there special cookies that are just a part of the celebration? Do you have Christmas traditions that are evolving as your family grows? I’d love to hear!
This article first appeared in the print edition of the Advocate Messenger 12/21/14