Holiday Traditions

‘Twas three days before Christmas, and all through the house, the children were laughing along with her spouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, with hopes that the cat would not steal them from there.

I have been thinking about traditions- which ones we’ve kept, which ones we have let slip away. The old me (the younger me?) would have lamented this hard. After all, traditions are meant to be kept, right? If I let that tradition go, I must be cheating my family out of joy/peace/faith/connection/etc. I don’t think that way any more. A tradition is a tool, not an heirloom. They may be passed down to us from generations past, or made from fresh cloth, but they are only the means to an end.

The traditions we are keeping this year:

  • singing O Come O Come Emmanuel for our Advent grace (c. 2007)
  • a family Christmas alphabet of gratitude (c. 1996)
  • putting up the Christmas decorations Thanksgiving weekend (c. generations)
  • reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever together (c. 2005)
  • visiting the Botanic Gardens Blossoms of Light (c. 2021)
  • a sibling gift exchange (c. 2016)
  • church on Christmas Eve (c. generations)
  • Sam’s making Aunt Jen’s coffee cake on Christmas morning (c. 2000)
  • our Christmas movie marathon (c. 2020)

We let lots of other traditions go: Nutcrackers, elaborate cookie exchanges, the singalong Messiah, so many crafts, Jingle Bell Runs, new pajamas on Christmas Eve, a million different Advent calendars, gingerbread houses, traveling… they may or may not come back in the future. But this year, for right now, these traditions are the tools that are serving us.

Do you have a new favorite holiday tradition, or one you have let go?

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