Changing Holiday Traditions

Holidays are all about family, love, and joy and sometimes long-standing traditions can get in the way.  It’s always been easy to maintain our traditions; nothing really changed much within our family.  Until a few years ago.

Aging family members

I was single for many years and my brother-in-law’s parents were always in Texas over the holidays, so there were no multiple celebrations to schedule around.  We always knew we’d spend Thanksgiving at my sister’s, Christmas Eve at my parents, and Christmas Day at my sister’s.  (She has three girls and it was much easier for them to be at home. Plus, there was Santa, you know!!)

Whether we like it or not, as the members of our families age, changes are bound to happen.  My nieces have grown up and are starting to introduce new members to the group. My brother-in-law’s parents no longer make the trip to Texas and have even reached the point where they prefer staying in their new residence.  My parents are older too, and with my mom’s fall last year and her cancer this year, we no longer want to burden them with hosting our growing group.

Other needs for change

Tim and I have been together for six years now and married for three.  That introduced a need for more change on my side, as well as his. A divorce always makes things a little uncomfortable for a while, until everyone gets used to it and knows what to expect.

I won’t pretend everything’s gone smoothly.  Christmas traditions are hard to change.  There’s so much emotion involved and those traditions become the glue that holds everyone together.  You know, the same old stories come out each year and we try to recreate the same feelings we’ve had in the past.

But you know what?  The holidays are more than traditions.  This might sound strange coming from an introvert, but I say “the more the merrier”.  I simply enjoy being in the company of others having a good time. 

It’s the perfect time of year to be inclusive and welcome others into your home.  Adding new people to our lives should generate happiness and not stress.

Gift giving seems to be one of those stressors.  Do we include boyfriends in our Christmas Eve stocking tradition?  What do we get them?  How much should we spend?  Will they feel uncomfortable if we give them a gift and they don’t reciprocate? 

Instead of worrying about this, we should just do what’s in our hearts.  If we feel inclined to include them in the gift giving, that’s great. If we don’t, then we shouldn’t do it. Most of the time, they’re just glad to be a part of the day and don’t care about the presents anyway.

A somewhat unusual new tradition

When Tim and I first started dating, we celebrated the first Christmas after his divorce together.  Of course, the kids and grandkids were going to spend time with each of their parents.  But it seemed like Tim didn’t get the same amount of time.  And it wasn’t what everyone was used to, so I’m not sure how joyous those first few Christmases were.

Once Tim and I got married, we offered an idea for a new tradition.  Each year, we’d split the hosting responsibilities between Thanksgiving and Christmas and all get together at one house.  Yes, that means spending these holidays with Tim’s ex-wife. 

This year, she hosted Thanksgiving, so the kids stayed there.  We will be hosting Christmas and the kids will stay with us.  We’ll do the opposite next year.  This arrangement has actually worked out quite well and after four sets of holidays, I don’t know that anyone feels funny about it anymore.

Would I prefer that we get them all to ourselves both Thanksgiving and Christmas?  Of course.  It seems we never get enough time with them, especially just us.  But what we’re doing guarantees we get a weekend once a year with them at our house.  And that’s more than we might get otherwise.

This year’s plans

Last year, Tim and I also started hosting my family on Christmas Eve, to relieve my parents of that responsibility.  I love doing it and this year we’ll have eleven people here!! 

I am so excited to meet my middle niece’s boyfriend and to have all of them here at the same time.  Now, that’s worth celebrating, no matter how we do it.  (My nieces have been scattered all over the world the past few years, so it’s been a while since all have been home for Christmas at the same time.)

Tim’s kids will be here the weekend of December 15/16 and we’ll have a great time then too.  So, I’ve thought of this week as a “rest up and be ready” week, because next week I have to start baking, menu planning, and cleaning. My goal is to get all the gift wrapping done yet this week.  🤞  Yikes!!

What about you?  Have you had to change your holiday traditions due to family changes?  Adding people is easy.  Losing someone not so much.  We may never completely recover from that, but hopefully, new traditions help us continue to have enjoyable holidays.

Embracing new traditions

As for me, I’m excited about our new traditions.  As I mentioned in a previous post, until last year, I’d never had my family at my house for a holiday.  (Does Mother’s Day count?)  I love that we get to make that one of our new traditions.

There is one tradition that I do miss.  We used to all go to church together on Christmas Eve before going to my parents for dinner and stocking gifts.  We stopped doing that a few years ago when my parents were looking for a new church.  I miss Silent Night by candlelight and hearing my family singing in harmony.

Tim and I will go to church this year, probably on the 23rd.  Our church is so big, we have multiple options. While it’s not the same, it’s a new tradition that is just as meaningful.  Silent Night by candlelight is still something I can look forward to.  Check out an example of what we currently experience here.

So, let’s not let holiday traditions become burdens that take the love and fun out of the season. Let’s welcome new members and remember fondly those we’ve lost, and know that new traditions can become just as meaningful. 

Remember – every tradition was new at one time!!!  🎄🎁🎅🤶🍪🥂🍥⛄❄

4 thoughts on “Changing Holiday Traditions”

    1. Thanks, Denise. I hope we can meet someday. Once Tim retires, we hope to take a few extended driving trips and I know getting to Ohio is on the list. Thanks so much for reading my blog and taking the time to comment.

  1. Linda, I love how your post has captured what I feel is the heart of Christmas. Traditions, inclusion, family❤️. It’s such a wonderful time of year and definitely a time to spread happiness. Thanks for your words!

    1. I think it’s easy for us to forget all that as we stress out over shopping, baking, decorating and everything else that goes on this time of year. I hope I’m getting better at just letting things happen and not trying to worry about perfection. Hey, some of our best memories (and stories) are when things didn’t go so great!! Thanks for commenting.

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