The holidays have always been a special time for me mostly because my mother was a master at building anticipation and creating traditions. Traditions are important for families because they create memories that are specific to your loved ones. They are especially important for children because it gives them something to look forward to, to talk about later in life, and to pass on to their children. One of the things I love the best about the holidays is when my children who are ages 20-34 start a sentence with “Do you remember when we used to…” or “I used to love when we..” as they talk about holiday traditions.
My family celebrates Christmas, but traditions can vary according to beliefs and households. In our house, Christmas eve is as important as Christmas day. Everyone can open one present on the 24th, we have a big dinner and we go to midnight mass. We would decide as a family what time we would wake up the next day, and it was usually horrifically early. Christmas day, we used to make all the children wait at the top of the stairs until we had turned on the lights and fixed everything. Several years ago, when my oldest was 30, she spent the night with us and on Christmas day as I walked down the stairs, I noticed no one was following me. I turned around and saw my children waiting expectantly at the top of the stairs. I said, “What are you doing?” They replied, “We are waiting for you to tell us we can come down.” Lol.
A tradition we adopted about ten years ago is to go to Waffle House after we have opened presents. The first year we did this, I was talking to our server who was around 20. She told me she was going to celebrate with her family after her shift was done. I asked her what she wanted as a present and she told me she really hoped she would receive a vacuum cleaner. It made perfect sense because it was practical, but it wasn’t what I expected a 20 year old to want. That moment made me think about all the blessings I have, that the holidays should be about giving thanks for those blessings while sharing them with loved ones as well as your community. It also made me realize how selfish I was asking for material things when none of the “stuff” is what matters.
What are the traditions you are passing on, and what new ones are you creating?