This year, my husband and I decided to do something totally different for Christmas. Very soon after my mother died, we decided that we would spend the holiday away from home. The goal wasn’t to break our traditions, but to take a break from them for one year.
Christmas was my mother’s favorite time of year. She started planning for Christmas in advance — buying gifts, organizing meals, and always reminding me what I needed to do for our annual holiday celebrations. Every year, we hosted a Christmas dinner for 20 or more people. For the most part, it was orchestrated by my mother from - what side dishes we would serve to what table linens we would use.
Her birthday was the day after Christmas. She had told me stories over the years about when she was a little girl how her parents always combined her Christmas and birthday gifts. As a result, I was determined to never let this happen again.
Every year, I planned a special outing for just the two of us on that day, which usually included lunch and a spa treatment. And I made sure that she had separate gifts wrapped in birthday paper, not Christmas paper.
When she was dying, we joked about how I might be able to pull off our Christmas events without her by my side. I threatened to go potluck, use paper plates instead of china, and wear jeans instead of a dress. She jokingly told me that if I did these things, she would roll over in her grave.
So I decided that this year will be my buffer year, a year of not doing it, to be followed by a year of doing it on my own, and in my own way.
I am hoping that taking a year off from our traditional Christmas will give me the perspective that I need to figure out what parts of my mother’s traditions I want to keep, and what new traditions I want to start. Above all, my mother was an amazingly accepting person. She would want me to start fresh in her absence.
But first things first. I think I hear the ocean calling me …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.