Skipping Traditions


When I was a youngish mom of babies, I scoured Pinterest to create a heap of meaningful holiday traditions for my kids. (In case you were wondering, Pinterest was BRAND NEW at that point.) My kids were barely old enough to comprehend anything other than the novelty of breaking through the fence around the Christmas tree, but I chose and created and forged ahead.

And so, eight years later, November 30th found me staring at a stack of 24 Christmas books. It was 9:30 at night, I was exhausted, and my offspring had gone to bed, anticipating that Rudolph would stop by during the night and drop off 24 wrapped Christmas books, to be opened each day until the big dance.

As you can probably guess, my attitude was fantastic.

In fairness, this is a pretty cool tradition, and I’m glad we started it. But still, if you’re a new mom, learn from me. Someday you’re going to have big kids, and they are going to expect those traditions you started when they were tiny. Choose wisely.

I honestly don’t remember my own mom having a ton of Christmas traditions. I mean, we decorated the house, and I have fond memories of those decorations. And we made Christmas cookies several times each year, although we didn’t necessarily have a recipe that we did each time. Some years we opened presents on Christmas Eve, and some years we waited until Christmas morning. When I was older, I remember going to the mall on Christmas Eve, picking out things I liked, wrapping them, and opening them up later that night. We said that Santa put the little toys and candy in our stockings, but no one ever believed it. A few times, my dad put exterior lights on the house (burgundy, mind you, because the ’80s were awesome). That was it.

Guess what else I don’t remember: thinking my mom was going to lose her ever-loving mind during the Christmas season. She clearly enjoyed it, and therefore I did, too. I wonder how different her experience—and mine—would have been in an era of Pinterest and Instagram. I honestly don’t think it could have been any better—but my mom would have had a lot less time to sit on the couch with me and enjoy the lights on the tree.

A few years ago, thankfully before my kids were too old to notice or object, I started scaling back those traditions I’d started. The books stayed, in part because I’d made the investment in the darn things, and I wasn’t about to quit four years in. We also make the same Christmas cookie recipe, although we only do it once, because it takes a TON of work and pretty much all the colored sprinkles in the world. On Christmas Day, we make a birthday cake for Jesus and sing and light candles.

But that’s it. We might do other things if they present themselves and we have time, but we don’t commit to doing them every year. I really want to spend December crashing on the couch, watching Elf  for the 400th time and basking in the light from the Christmas tree. (White lights, mind you because Pinterest has taught us all to have better taste.) I intentionally leave enough margin in my time that I can come up with a good story for how Santa just so happened to use the same wrapping paper that we have in the bag in our laundry room. (Oops.)

I truly don’t think there’s anything wrong with all the creative, fun things moms do during the holidays. I’m just thinking we should all feel free to walk away from traditions that steal our joy…because good traditions make life better, not worse.

It’s okay to have an ’eighties Christmas, friends. Go for it. Just skip the burgundy lights, because I think they’re fire hazards now.




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