Next week begins the holiday season. Growing up, my family lived at least 2 hours away from our extended families. We spent every holiday traveling to my mom’s side of the family and to my dad’s side of the family. It got tiring but it was what we did. My parents continue to travel 2-1/2 hours each holiday.
When my husband and I were first married, I vowed that when we had kids, I wouldn’t be traveling each and every holiday. I wanted my kids to be able to play with their Christmas toys ON Christmas, not be stuck in a car for 5+ hours. That decision has created some difficulty.
We generally visit with my husband’s family ON Thanksgiving and ON Christmas. If my extended families decides to celebrate the holidays on an off-day, we go. Otherwise, we are left trying to figure out a time to celebrate with my parents, 2 siblings, and their families on an off-day. My siblings travel with my parents to be with extended family about 1/2 the time.
So, here lies the problem. We never celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with my side of the family until after-the-fact or not at all. Of course, we always are sure to get together on Christmas but sometimes Thanksgiving and Easter come and go and we never get together. It is difficult with schedules.
Do You Come from a Traditionless Family?
So, am I creating my own problem based on my decision not to travel ON holidays? In part, yes. I also long for traditions as I come from a traditionless family.
My husband’s family is deep in traditions. I have learned over the past 17 years with my husband that I like traditions. My family’s tradition generally was to travel and that seems to be it. I want rich family traditions for my family. I want them to:
- have the advent house to look forward to
- celebrate St. Nicholas Day,
- look forward to the special Christmas Eve dinner and hate the mushroom soup but still have to eat it
- think about what blessings they want to ask for each other when we break the Oplatki Christmas Wafers
- know we go to Christmas Eve service in our Christmas clothes
- leave cookies for Santa
- enjoy being with their relatives.
I was sorting through pictures for this post. I love looking back at pictures, especially at Christmas. I realized that we have had some really good memories, even if we weren’t celebrating ON Christmas or breaking Christmas wafers together. I saw that nobody cared if the stuffing was home made or not, nobody cared that it was the week after Christmas, nobody cared if my kids were wearing matching sweaters, nobody cared if there were enough matching place settings for everyone; it was just good to be together. So, maybe traditions aren’t necessary?
So, this year, I am going to try not to get stressed over the details, but still implement traditions that I want for my kids. Is it wrong for me to try to include traditions in my family? Is it ok that those flow over into my attempts with my parents and siblings families too?
We are actually celebrating Thanksgiving at my house this Saturday since it was the only day everyone could make it on my side of the family, and that’s ok. We will be visiting my last living grandma and that side of the family at Christmas since it is on an alternate date too. So, it seems to be working out this year.
Although I did kinda mess up my side of the family celebrating by choosing not to travel ON holidays but even if we did, we would still have to find a time to exchange presents for the kids – can’t do that going 65MPH down the highway! At any rate, it seems to work out in the end. I just gotta not stress over the details and enjoy the holiday season. How about you?