Growing up, my family didn’t necessarily have traditions for the holidays. We always woke up to my mom cooking Christmas dinner while we opened up Christmas gifts or we always went to my grandmother’s house to celebrate with family. However, we didn’t have what some people consider holiday traditions like Elf on the Shelf, Chinese food the night before Thanksgiving, reading A Cajun Christmas book every year, going around the table to say what you are thankful for, making homemade ornaments every Christmas or buying certain types of ornaments every year. My husband is an only child and comes from a smaller family while I come from a mother who is one of ten, so lots of aunts and uncles and cousins. We both had things that we occasionally did every holiday season but nothing that was consistently done every Thanksgiving or every Christmas. Does this mean we don’t have any traditions to pass on?
When we first got married we went through the phase of trying to figure out what family to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with and that was exhausting. Fast-forward to today with our first child and we find ourselves trying to figure out traditions for her. Neither one of us had something that we did as kids that we necessarily want to do for her, but we both agree we want some type of tradition. While talking to a friend about holiday plans she asked what traditions we would be doing with our daughter. My response to her was simply “we are trying to figure it out.” However, “figuring out traditions” really hit me hard because traditions are not something that you should figure out, but traditions are necessary in my opinion. So here we are about to spend our second holiday season with our daughter and no said traditions in place. We thought, are we bad parents? Will she grow up listening to her other friends talk about their family traditions and have to sit back quietly while she realized she grew up with no traditions? If there is one thing I have realized becoming a mom, it’s that you are different from the other moms and other family and other children. Therefore, your traditions (or lack thereof) will look different from others.
Traditions Just Happen, Don’t Force Them
This year I have decided to not worry about traditions but instead let them happen over time. Listening to other people talk about traditions they do every year has made me realize that those traditions weren’t planned or forced, they just happened. Those traditions probably happened like this – one year an aunt found a really cute ornament, the child liked it, and to recreate that reaction and feeling, that same family member continued to buy that same ornament every year. Now it has become a tradition for that child to receive this said ornament. Voila – we have a family tradition!
Memories vs Mementos
I love to have tangible things to remember people or occasions by, but in college, I learned a hard lesson on memories last forever. Memories are the one thing that mother nature or any human being can take from you. If I pass anything along to our daughter it will hopefully be a memory that stays with her forever instead of a lot of items. We may not have traditions in place just yet but I think we can at least give her experiences and memories for her to keep always.
Whether you have family local, you travel to visit family or you travel away from family to focus on just your immediate family … or whether your family consists of immediate family, extended family or friends you have chosen as family, family is family. Family is the unsaid tradition that is available to anyone and everyone. When all else fails, you always have family for the holidays, whatever family looks like to you!