This time of year has always held a magical quality for me, even more so as an adult than a child. I’ve already raided the dollar section at Target for stocking stuffers and cute holiday décor, multiple times. I always anxiously await the day after Thanksgiving to go tree shopping, and the weekend following to decorate. I’ve bought cookie cutters and am almost done with my Christmas shopping (yes before December even begins!) But these are relatively new traditions for me.
I grew up in a somewhat disconnected family. My parents are divorced, and relationships divided within their own families. We never had a ton of money, and most of the time my mom was working two jobs to make ends meet.
Since I can remember, I always spent the holidays with my mom and usually the only uncle we still stay in touch with. Regardless of the number of people present at any given holiday gathering, I still thoroughly enjoyed that time, and there are still special traditions that I choose to carry into my own family.
We all have those traditions that come to mind when we think of certain holidays and events. Those traditions that we keep near and dear to our hearts; the ones that we choose to carry with us into adulthood.
The Ones I’ve Carried On
- We never hosted Thanksgiving. We would wake up and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in our jammies, throw some green bean casserole in a pan and head out! I love doing the same in my own home.
- Green bean casserole is a must. I am obsessed with green bean casserole, and it just screams Thanksgiving to me (I still have my mom make it!)
- I don’t care how gaudy they are, I LOVE colored lights on my tree. Our tree was fake (not a carry) and covered in the most hideous mix of colored lights, tacky garland, and a light up star. And I loved every second of it. My husband, however, is not a fan, so we compromise and I get my tacky lights every other year.
- Every single year we watched the same Christmas Movies. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Merry Christmas Charlie Brown, and so on.
- Every Christmas Eve night, we would get to choose one small present to open. It was just enough to take the edge off that Christmas morning anticipation.
- I always had a small Christmas tree in my bedroom. My mom would manage to sneak a present up there for the morning. Her hope was that it would keep me busy at those wee morning hours and grant her some extra sleep.
- Our stockings were always first to be opened. And everything inside was wrapped! To this day, my mom still gives me a wrapped Lifesaver book in my stocking each year.
Flash forward to 2017, I’m sure we can all agree that the tradition game has been stepped up significantly by our good friend/enemy Pinterest. My husband and I have adopted our own new traditions along the way, but once my son arrived the tradition game got kicked up a few notches. I find myself more and more in love with this time of year, especially now seeing them through his eyes.
The Ones I’ve Created
- Taking a moment before Thanksgiving dinner to share something we are thankful for. It’s kind of crazy to think that this is something that I’ve had to “create” for my family, but living the lifestyle we do; non-stop 24/7, it is important to pause during these hectic times and remind ourselves of how lucky we are.
- The weekend after Thanksgiving is tree shopping time! Growing up with a fake tree was fine, but there is nothing like the smell of a real Christmas tree. I usually try to get my husband out the day after, but he normally resists. Either way, by Sunday night I’m basking in that REAL Christmas tree glory.
- The Elf on the Shelf. Enough said. This is not an original tradition, but apparently a necessary one.
- Christmas Cards. Yes, actual cards that are sent in the mail adorned with a darling photo of my kid (that cost me $$$).
- A Christmas Eve Box. I’ve decided to update the opening a gift on Christmas Eve and make it more of an experience. We do a Christmas Eve Box (which I decided to make for all the littles last year — what an undertaking!) The box is personalized and includes Christmas PJs and some special treats. This year I’m including reindeer food and snowman kits. I also put the Santa plate and cup in there for cookies and milk.
- Give back! This year we have already reached out to a family service agency to get the wish lists of some local children. I highly encourage something like this being incorporated into your traditions this time of year. It is a great lesson in gratitude and empathy for the entire family, and my favorite new tradition!
Traditions, although sometimes painstaking and a lot of work, provide some stability and consistency when life seems uncertain. They bring us back home, back down to the ground, and back together. Traditions connect even the most disconnected to what matters most: those we love.