Friday, December 17, 2010

New Traditions



It's not easy giving up old traditions. Christmas is not so much a religious holiday for us, but more of a celebration of giving and being grateful for our many blessings. (We tend to tilt more toward spiritual beliefs, as opposed to purely Christian.) It has always included decorating, Santa's Breakfasts for the local Children's Cabinet, Christmas Eve services, cookie decorating with friends, making cream puffs for our neighbors. Now my daughters are grown, and have their own ideas about the holidays, and they don't always gel with mine. Norman Rockwell? Not.

My hairdresser was lamenting the loss of tradition earlier this week. Her children no longer foster the same excitement they once did, her oldest has moved out of the home and doesn't plan on being back for Christmas Day. The others have requested gift cards. She's sad. So she has decided to trail along with a friend, dressed as Santa, to visit disadvantaged children. 

I know how she feels. I guess for some reason I thought things would always stay the same - my daughters would want to carry on the same traditions they always seemed to enjoy while growing up. I would sit back and watch them do all the things I did to make the season special. But now I wonder - what was I thinking? Why would they want to do the same things as adults that they did as children? Of course things need to change! It's time for new traditions, new memories. It's time to either do it their way, or do my own thing. Which isn't so bad once you get used to the idea. 

So this year we'll create something new for ourselves. Change is the only constant in this world, so I may as well hop on board and enjoy the ride. Lucy is happily ensconced in her own home with dog and house sitters, so we feel better about leaving her. The kennel is not a good place for a little black princess on Christmas Day.

This is a year that finds most of us embracing some kind of change. For many, hardship is the guest, and/or life as they have known it will not ever be the same. My heart goes out to each and every one of them. But for some of us - new customs are not all bad. Life is full of surprises, and some of them are really wonderful. We never know what is right around the corner.

Has your holiday traditions changed this year? What are you doing different?

25 comments:

Lydia said...

Yes, more changes again this year. Way dialed down, which is saying something since last Christmas I kept it simpler than ever before. To begin the season I took a trunkload of Christmas decorations/items/memorabilia (some actually precious to me) to the Human Society Thrift Store. We got our tree last night and I was just not in the mood to decorate it, so will do that tomorrow. This tree is smaller than last year (still taller than I) so will take even fewer strands of lights and decorations. I will again prepare a box marked "Humane Soc./Goodwill" and will put in it ornaments I don't use. I will not hang onto it until next year as I did this year, and will donate immediately.
After my mother's death in 2000 I felt I must keep up her tradition of making press cookies, enough for all neighbors on the block and Michael's co-workers. I had her cookie press, but didn't want to use her little hand mixer so we bought a KitchenAid mixer that I used that one year and never bonded with. I made dozens and dozens of cookies all through the night for maybe two years before I decided I couldn't do them for the office. Then the next year I stopped doing them for the neighbors. Then my cholesterol checked "warning!" and I quit making Christmas cookies altogether.
I love your observation: why should we want to continue doing the things we did as children. It is so rational that it borders on brilliant!
I do not consider myself Christian and attend to the spiritual moments the holidays bring if we just be still and notice.
Does Reno still have a downtown Christmas tree? Seems the little park where it was is gone now? I cannot visualize exactly where it was....

Brian Miller said...

nice. nothing wrong with change at all...and soon enough with be finding those new traditions...

R. J. said...

I've learned to have no expectations and wait to see what happens each holiday season. Each year they are different, some years they are very traditional, some years they are new experiences and improvised fun. This year will be very traditional with two small grandchildren. I baked cookies for the second year with my granddaughter who is five. My grandson who is two is just tuning in this holiday. I realize this phase of childhood is to be treasured because it will change over the years. When they discover the big, wide world and make their own holiday fun, we will adjust and find other things to enjoy. The great charm of the season to me is the unexpected pleasures that I didn't anticipate. I wish you treasure and pleasure for the season.

Whitney Lee said...

That's interesting, Nancy, as I have carried on quite a few of the traditions I shared with my parents. There are some differences, simply because there is some necessary melding when you get married.

This year is going to be magical; it's the first year my daughter has known what Christmas is. She and I made sugar cookies last week. We'll make more next week. That's one of the things my sister and I would do with my mom each year.

New this year will be my dad. He is flying in next week to spend the holidays with us. This will be our first Christmas together in about 12 years. I'm as excited as a little kid!

We will spend Christmas Eve at my in laws for our annual dinner. Then we'll come home and put the kids to bed and set out Santa Clause's loot. I guess this year we need to set out milk and cookies and carrots for the reindeer.

I think Christmas is the perfect time for family traditions! Of course, there should always be room for necessary change, and I hope you have a wonderful trip!

DJan said...

When I was a kid we celebrated Christmas big time. I then celebrated every year with my then-husband and our children, but it changed quickly when my little son died. It's never been the same since.

My current (and final) husband and I don't hang decorations other than a holiday wreath, but we give to others and keep it very simple. We enjoy a special meal at home on Christmas Day. That's about it, and it's enough as active Seniors. Oh, and I go to a couple of chorales to hear the music!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Our Christmases tend to be a mix of old and new traditions. This is still my favorite season, though, with all the lights and great decorations that people put up.

Love the dog pic!

Lori said...

Oh Nancy I just love your thoughts on this. I love that you are so open and not stuck on the old or traditions, "just because".

While I do enjoy some of the traditions of Christmas's past, I try not to do things that will just stress the whole house out or doing them just for the sake of doing them. While we tend to keep things fairly simple, this year, we are doing that even more so. With finances being tight this year, my goal is to not let that steal away my joy. My little's are joyful and it rubs off on me so that helps me stay centered on joy.

I hope the holidays are a time of peace, love and joy for you and your family. Blessings. XX

Kathryn said...

This was a timely post Nancy. This year will bring big changes for our family - sharing my daughter with her boyfriend's family, having dinner a few days later in order to have her here, not knowing if my newly-moved-out son will come over the night before Christmas, or just saunter in on the day itself.
No one here to wake up early; no one heare to answer my question, "Did Santa come?". ( I asked my kids this question long after they stopped believing).
No group trek to a nearby island to visit the in-laws; they're still with us, but no longer able to cope with hosting a big family get-together. I'd say the biggest change for us, then, will be that christmas is more fragmented. A visit here - a dinner there. My children haven't really started their own traditions, but they're changing ours. I hope I move gracefully with these changes. Thanks for listening!

kate i said...

Great post Nancy...it seems it's a topic that's on many peoples minds right now.

I've never been "big" on Christmas but did it all for the family when they were younger. They're now grown with their own families but there have been changes there too with separation and divorce...it all makes Christmas very complicated and unNorman Rockwellian!

My solution has been to find the ways my husband and I can enjoy it ourselves while embracing the changes. We've been doing this a lot through music this year...choral and choir concerts with friends. We also celebrate the solstice and the return of the sun with a group of spiritually minded friends. You're right, fighting change and wanting things to be different just makes things really painful! Life is all about change.

Blessings of peace and love to you and your family Nancy.

susan said...

It's always a nice time of year to see what happens next. From what I can see and read over here you're doing everything just right.

Star said...

Same as you Nancy, embracing change. There have been so many changes this year for me that Christmas is just one more. I know how you feel. I long for how it used to be and I feel sad that it will never be that way again. My youngest son got married back in July. He is spending Christmas day with his wife's family for the most part, although he is 'popping round' in the afternoon. The middle son has just become a dad. He is spending Christmas day with his wife's brother's family so I think we will just have the eldest son at home. However, things could change. My busy day will be the 26th.
It is nice to introduce something new each year, like a new bauble for the Christmas tree. None of us wants everything to stay exactly the same, do we, but at the same time we don't want to lose what we had.
Have a great weekend.
Blessings Star

Grandmother said...

Some changes for my husband and me come from celebrating Christmas with my daughter, her husband, and the 2 grands in the rain forest of Trinidad. We welcome the solstice and have little ceremonies for Christmas and New Years that are short but meaningful to a 4 and 8 yr. old. They help plan and run them. We started this last year and the kinds loved it. We've scaled down the presents this year and will do something of service as a family as well. Being together, celebrating what matters and giving back feels good.

maggie's garden said...

Nancy,
Thanks so much for sharing this...I'm feeling the same this year and it's nice to hear I'm not alone in embracing change.
Thanks again.

Jayne Martin said...

I love that photo of Lucy. This year I cancelled me traditional tree-trimming party and have scaled back in other ways, too. Still, it will be a relaxing lovely Christmas shared with friends and, if weather permits, a nice ride on my horse. And I am grateful...

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

Great post. Growing up, Christmas was always a big thing. My dad almost always worked on that day (and sometimes so did my mom) so we were up early to unwrap gifts and then go back to bed.

with my own kids, we let them wake up on their own (but first up got to wake the rest) and the only rule was the sun had to be up. we had a traditional turkey/dressing with the trimmings dinner. we always let them have "santa" for as long as they wanted but explained to them the reason we celebrated Christmas in the first place.

we've scaled back several years in a row. the kids are grown, married, and with kids of their own. amy and isaiah lived with us for 4 years but this year are celebrating with her new inlaws - which is how it should be. isaiah loves his new family and "nanna" and "poppa" have welcomed him with open arms. makes this grandma very happy because he deserves all the happines in the world.

this year, things are tight financially so we scaled back even farther. keith moved back in to help with ron (after amy moved out) and my sister may come to visit. other than that, we'll have a quiet day and be grateful for the time together.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

You are right, change is good. I love to hear all my childrens' voices as they tell me about their day and how early they got up..... I am quite content with my simple holiday!

rosaria at the lake said...

Shopping for children who have nothing. I gave up trying to please my own. Now, my contribution is to help others find a bit of joy on this day. We are all happier with this arrangement.

Rob-bear said...

Maybe this Bear is getting aged and grumpy, but my response to Christmas is, increasingly, "Bah, humbug."

But I hope you have a truly blessed Christmas this year, Nancy.

Hilary said...

Oh there's no knowing what or how things will change. The most we can do is get the best out of everything. You, and your hairdresser have the right idea.

Lindz said...

I would happily partake in your new tradition! I hope you all have a wonderful time, I'll be thinking of you guys on Christmas when you're warm and cozy (but in a different way.)

Sarah Lulu said...

Changes for me too ...pairing down I suppose ...the children (adults) do enjoy a lot of my old traditions but they are more scattered now and they have to spread themselves between family and inlaws etc ...

Because I'm also recovering from a rushed trip to hospital ...I'm grateful to be having a quieter time ...I will serve brunch for those who can make it ..

We did Secret Santa this year and bought a chicken, a goat and a cooking set for someone in Africa who might need it through World Vision.

gayle said...

I think the older we get the more changes there are. It use to be hard on me at first but I try now just to do whatever is best for most!

Kathy G said...

Yes, change is constant, and not just at Christmastime. I've held on to some old holiday traditions, but was glad to give up others.

Shrinky said...

Aw, now that is what I call the TRUE spirit of Christmas! Ours have changed much through the years, and there are several missing faces around our Chrismas table, seems we have lost all our older generation of loved ones we used to share this special time with. My eldest is home from the mainland, and I have all our brood under one roof again, so I feel blessed and happy to look forward to some wonderful family time.

I hope yours is filled with laughter and love, where ever you may spend it.

CrazyCris said...

for me Christmas is sacred... even a trip to the Antarctic couldn't keep me from going home (to Spain) for Christmas one year! I just had to leave the house at 8 a.m. on the 25th to go catch a series of planes to make it to my ship in Australia, but at least I spent Christmas Eve (which for us the "big" one) with my family!

but this year... well this year I'm leaving my parents in my youngest sister's care (she lives in London, wasn't home last year but I was) and I'm heading off for a summer Christmas in New Zealand with my other sister who hasn't been home for Christmas in 3 years! It feels VERY strange to be getting on a plane heading across the globe instead of down to Alicante... but I want to spend the holidays with her! (plus visit New Zealand)

at least she just wrote that she set up a Christmas tree... it really wouldn't have felt like Christmas without one! And I still can't wrap my head around the idea of a "warm" Christmas! But I am looking forward to New Year's Eve on the beach! :o)

Happy Holidays and enjoy your new traditions!!!