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Who Benefits When You Change Your Holiday Traditions?

By December 13, 2018January 27th, 2023No Comments

What holiday traditions do you observe? Or, do you do something different every year?

In a recent conversation, someone asked about our Christmas traditions.

Since I’m one who likes traditions, we did have a few when our children were home. Here is the short list:

  • Read the nativity story from either Luke or Matthew before opening gifts
  • Listen to Handel’s Messiah on Christmas morning while we open gifts
  • Swedish cardamom bread, meat, and fruit on Christmas morning
  • Sloppy Joes, potato chips, and carrot sticks for Christmas dinner (I’ll tell ya ALL about this one in a minute)
  • Stockings first on Christmas Day
  • A gift to wear, one to share, and one just for you
  • Pick one person to receive the first gift. After opening the gift, they select a gift for someone else and tell them, “Merry Christmas.” We continue this until all gifts are opened.

But then I got to thinking about the traditions we do not observe.

Some were ones I grew up with and others were my husband’s.

  • Open presents on Christmas Eve (mine)
  • A full Christmas meal—standing rib roast, steamed pudding, layered Christmas salad, and much more. (mine)
  • Turkey and fixings (my husband’s)
  • Dinner at the O Club or some other restaurant on Christmas Day (my husband’s)
  • Distribute all the gifts to everyone before opening (both)

Why did we change some of these traditions?

Let me tell you the story about the traditional Christmas dinner.

One year just a few days before Christmas, I got the flu. On Christmas morning, all I could do was lie on the couch with my eyes half-open to watch the kids open their presents. Who cared about my gifts? Not me. Too sick, and please don’t move me, thank you very much.

My husband and kids were getting hungry. He’d found the Swedish bread in the cabinet for breakfast and cooked up some meat. I don’t know what it was. There was no way I could eat anything, let alone cook the traditional dinner.

“I’m not cooking the roast,” he said. Nor did I expect him to. “What is something simple I can make for us to eat?”

“There is some ground beef in the freezer. I think I can talk you through making some sloppy joes? You could cut up some carrots to have with them. And I bought a bag of potato chips for a holiday treat.”

The kids loved dinner! They thought Dad was the greatest for making it. I wouldn’t know as I’d crawled back to my bed.

It turns out my family didn’t like the traditional family dinner I slaved over every year.

When Christmas came around the next year, the kids wanted sloppy joes, carrots sticks, and potato chips. Cookies, too, of course. They liked the simplicity of the meal and that mommy was relaxed the whole day instead of worrying over the meal. We lingered over our gifts, played a few games, watched one of the kids’ new movies, and ate when we were hungry. Nothing formal, simply a fully relaxed day for everyone.

That year I realized that some traditions weren’t as important as I made them.

My family wasn’t interested. Instead, being relaxed and enjoying the time with my family brought more joy. And, paper plates were a lot easier to clean up than a sink full of dirty dishes.

I haven’t cooked a standing rib roast since.

As you prepare for Christmas, is there some tradition that needs to disappear?

Listen to your family. They’ll tell you what’s essential and what isn’t.

We still observe some traditions we had when our kids were little. I’m always surprised and tickled when I hear my kids ask if we will do this or that.

What is one tradition that is important to your family? Or, what is one tradition you’ve set aside? Leave a comment below.

Gotta run. Time to make the Swedish cardamom bread and the cream wafers. Still on the hook for those. 🙂

But the Christmas music is playing.

If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.

  • Kirsten D Samuel

    I empower Christian wives to discover they are seen, loved, and heard. These women find the freedom to be who they are beyond their partner’s struggles, and find hope that there is a life worth living.

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