As the holidays descend upon us in what feels like rapid succession, I always take a moment to ponder family traditions. Why we do what we do, and when do we change it up?
From the beginning of my marriage and my journey as a mother, I made it clear I was not a cook. Thus, I have worked at WRAL most Thanksgiving days and merrily sent my family packing to his family’s house for a home cooked meal. So far, even when I am not working, we have not deviated from this longstanding tradition which everyone, who is familiar with my cooking skills, believes is a wise choice.
One change I made this year in our Christmas routine: I no longer haul armfuls of Christmas decorations down from the attic on Black Friday. I cleaned out some drawers and closet space in my house and made room for the glittery décor. Now, I can pull them out when I am ready without the headache of traversing rickety pull-down attic stairs with a heavy load.
Some traditions we have kept, including hosting a pre-holiday neighborhood Christmas carol party and hosting Christmas dinner (with food prepared by the hands at Whole Foods) for about two dozen relatives and friends.
While this no doubt makes the holidays more hectic, I am constantly seeking ways to simplify these two events to include more joy and less toiling. Even though my girls are teenagers now and often grouse at the mere mention of these events, I’m pretty sure they are inextricably woven into the fabric of their childhood memories.
New Year’s Eve has traditionally been a quiet night when it falls during the work week, but a more festive event when we gather with multiple families for dinner and revelry on a weekend. This year, we will resume the latter tradition as it falls on a Saturday. It’s a way to include the kids and parents in a celebration of the year to come.
While I love these traditions, at the same time, I think it’s important to be open to changing them when it makes sense.
Someday, I am sure, I will head to my children’s homes for the holidays when it becomes harder for them to travel with their own children. Someday, I might even trade tinsel and trees for white sand and waves over the holidays because there’s nothing wrong with making new traditions.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.