Holiday Tip (not a rant or directed at anyone, simply a life lesson): When you make plans for the holidays, it’s okay to start your own traditions. It’s even okay if those traditions change from year to year.
The holidays, with their twinkling lights and festive cheer, often evoke memories of time-honored traditions passed down through generations. However, as we navigate the complexities of adulthood, there’s a certain beauty in realizing that it’s perfectly acceptable – and even encouraged – to start our own holiday traditions. What’s more, it’s completely okay if those traditions evolve and take on new forms with each passing year.
In our family, we not only blended two different traditions but added a deployment cycle for the first several years of our marriage. It’s only been since separation from the military that we’ve started creating our own family traditions. Some couples choose to alternate holidays between extended family. We did this for a while. Grandmama was the queen of Thanksgiving, with real homemade dressing, one of my husband’s favorite foods. One year, she even did Thanksgiving at a completely different time so he could have it before deploying. In my family, the extended family Christmas gathering rarely occurred on Christmas Day, so we would spend it with Peter’s family. Then we moved across the ocean. Developing our own traditions became necessary. Taking elements from each of our histories and adding new things just for our little family became an adventure of its own.
In the years since we returned stateside, all of our grandparents have passed away. We still make it a priority for our kids to have quality time and relationships with their grandparents (our parents), but we’ve also decided that doesn’t have to include ALL of the extended family EVERY time. What matters most is time spent together and making memories.
Throughout the season of celebration, shape your own unique identity by crafting traditions based on NOW. Recognize that this year is not the same as last year, and next year will also be different. Your traditions can and should evolve with you. Time allows us to embrace life, understanding that change is not only inevitable but often brings unexpected joy.
At the heart of any tradition lies the essence of shared experiences and meaningful moments. Starting your own traditions provides a canvas for creating memories that hold personal significance, weaving a tapestry of joy, love, and connection that is uniquely yours. Making memories happens in the most ordinary of moments: decorating the tree, cooking together, or sharing gifts.
Holidays are, at their core, about coming together. By forging your own traditions, you invite others into a celebration that reflects your values and interests. In recent years, we’ve added serving the less fortunate to our Christmas day activities. On Christmas morning, instead of rushing to open presents, we go to the church building and serve members of the community. We look forward to sharing this time as a family before celebrating our own gratitude later in the day.
Life is a journey filled with twists and turns – which is an understatement to a military family. Holidays can also have twists, turns, and even drama. Acknowledging that your traditions may change from year to year is an exercise in adaptability that may include setting boundaries – yes, even with family. However, one can still find joy in the present moment, no matter the challenges.
If you need to make changes for a healthier, happier holiday, consider these questions:
- Who do you want to include?
- What brings you joy?
- What allows you to feel most connected to your loved ones?
- How can you intentionally interact with others to make the most of every moment this season?
In this season of warmth and connection, remember: it’s not just okay to start your own traditions; it’s a beautiful and necessary part of the ever-evolving story of your life