Traditions. Are they confining rules or comforting structure? Most families have many holiday traditions. Did my children love our traditions? I don’t know.
I have many holiday traditions. One of my favorite Christmas traditions was the late night quiet hour on Christmas Eve when my husband and I stuffed the Christmas stockings. The children were asleep – well, probably they weren’t, – but they were at least behind closed doors in their rooms and quiet. We played Christmas music to cover any sounds for which little ears may have been listening. I drank a cup of hot chocolate and we both ate candies as we sorted the bags full of loot making a pile for each child and dividing the candy equally. Everyone received an orange flavored & shaped ball of chocolate in the toe of their stocking and everything else went in after that. Often the sock was overflowing and sometimes items were placed on the mantle nearby. Because I did 98% of the shopping it was not until this hour that my husband even saw the items I had purchased.
On Christmas morning the children were required to stay in their rooms until 7 a.m. Then we gathered in the living room and they each received their stocking. Next came a breakfast including birthday cake for Jesus, eggs, bacon, hot chocolate and fruit salad. On the cake was a candle for each person at the table because Jesus came for each one. Furthermore no one can fit over 2000 candles on one cake. After breakfast we read the story of Jesus birth from the Bible and then we opened the presents under the Christmas tree.
Some people love dependable order and tradition. They are comforted by knowing what to expect and their role in events. Others love variety and surprises. If you have more than one child, then you probably have one of each. Husband and wife may even vary. Each family has to figure it out for themselves. Compromise is usually the way to peace. There are also grandparents, adult siblings and extended family on both sides to consider.
As each new family is established they must navigate through the murky waters of instituting or initiating its traditions in view of the past traditions of two families. Communication is the key to working through it all. There is more than just Christmas to consider, what about the other holidays or birthdays and anniversaries? How is gift buying handled? Who does the shopping or gift wrapping?
Once you get it all figured out be willing to continue to make changes and adaptions. That is what happens in life. New normals are constantly being established. DO NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. Talk about everything or holidays will become overwhelming and stressful. This is especially important to revisit as your family grows and ages. Teenagers have very different ideas about holiday fun than do ten or two year olds.
A whole new realm is reached when your adult child gets married and brings another person’s expectations and traditions into the family. They must be given freedom to create their own plans and traditions. Doing this may disrupt your norm. Let them know they are welcome and you would love to have them around, and then say, “Here is what we are doing. Please let us know what you want to do.” Truly be okay. Don’t hold a grudge or be unhappy or shaming.
Have I done this perfectly? No. Sometimes I have not clearly expressed my desires or expectations. Last Mother’s Day my daughter and I reviewed my expectations of that holiday. It was shocking to me that she didn’t already know what I was thinking!