Holidays this year are likely to look and feel different with spikes in COVID looming. If the thought of not being with family for Thanksgiving sends your emotions into a tailspin, and opening presents on a Zoom call seems ridiculous, you’re probably not the only one who’s feeling this way. But look at the bright side: you don’t have to listen to your nephew play the violin, nor will you get trapped by your aunt in a one-way conversation of “when I was your age . . .” stories. Good news, right?
Confession: I am not a person with a lot of traditions — maybe because I never had children, and maybe because I push back against the words “always” and “never.” Regardless, I love learning about traditions established by others, and have been known to have lengthy conversations with friends about green bean casserole and opening presents on Christmas Eve versus Christmas Day. I like to ask about various preferences as well. Apple pie or pecan pie or pumpkin pie (or all three)? And for some reason, I need to know whether your holiday movie rituals include “Elf,” “Home Alone,” “Love Actually,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or 24 hours of “A Christmas Story.”
I’m a big proponent of establishing new traditions, especially when families are celebrating for the first time after the loss of a loved one. For several years after my husband died, I had a very difficult time even thinking about displaying my snowman collection at the beginning of each December. Gradually, a few of my favorites have come in from the garage for a couple of weeks, and I’m okay with that because it’s become my new little tradition.
Over the years that I’ve been a volunteer at Adam’s Place, I’ve talked with the adults in my group about holiday traditions, listening to what they used to do, and brainstorming about what new traditions they might establish. I like to suggest that their kids be allowed to choose a new tradition to try out. You never know what might find its way into a family’s heart.
My point is that although holiday traditions are wonderful, calming, predictable, and warm, in many situations we outgrow them. Families change. Kids grow up, move out, get married and have kids of their own. People divorce and remarry, and families become blended. And sometimes we lose a loved one forever. If your family has evolved in any way, maybe it’s time to replace something you don’t particularly love but you’ve always done with something you choose to try for now. You just might discover a new tradition that you’ll repeat next year, and the year after that.
As I mentioned, I don’t really have many traditions of my own. However, there is one exception. It’s kind of embarrassing, but if you comment on this blog, I’ll tell you what it is. Bonus points if you guess correctly.
I think the best tradition of all is to be nice, grateful, patient, and look for the joy. That’s what I’ll be doing.