Holidays are times filled with memories for most of us. Some are good, some are painful to remember. As we grow older and begin to live our own lives, maybe it’s time for us to create new memories and new holiday traditions that reflect our own tastes and joys.
After 20 years of marriage, Melissa is a happily divorced businesswoman, owns her own home, and lives alone. She has created traditions that are completely different from those of her ex-in-laws and these she shares with friends and family. “I wanted to break with the traditions that were incorporated into my marriage by my husband and which I really never liked. Those traditions reminded me too much of the discord that always accompanied the holidays with my in-laws. Over the last few years, I have begun my own holiday traditions, ones that reflect the new me and my new life.”
A friend of mine was concerned about the upcoming holiday season. Recently married to a man with two young children, she and her husband were at a loss as what to do about traditions. “The kids have been wonderful about accepting me as part of their lives and I wanted to do something special for the holidays.”
The problem is, she continued, they have no family traditions established for when they come to her house.
Another friend is worried that continuing to follow in the traditions already in place by her parents as well as her in-laws, will leave no room for her and her husband to have something that is theirs alone, something they can share with their children.“I don’t mind keeping some family traditions but not all. I’d like to begin something new that is completely our own design.”
There are many others in the same position. Some families are a two religion household. Some decide that the customs and traditions of their childhood aren’t what they now need; still others grew up without any real traditions, but wish they had.
The solution? Create your own traditions.
Holiday traditions become something special because of the memories associated with them. Some are religious, like lighting special candles or serving ethnic foods symbolic of your faith. Others are just generic fun. Anything you do for a holiday can become a tradition.
If you have become a step-parent recently and this is the first holiday together with the children, be innovative. Ask them what they would like to do and honor their requests for special food or customs. Remember, familiarity to a child is comforting. But do introduce new traditions, ones that you create as a blended family. It can be as simple as having hot chocolate with whipped cream after dinner or as elaborate as putting special decorations with each family member’s name imprinted on them in a place of honor.
If you and your husband are of different faiths or belief systems, create something that is distinctly yours as a couple. One couple I met have a tradition that is special to them. They make heart-shaped breads filled with raisins and currents every year. It symbolizes their love. This year they have begun making the breads as gifts for their friends too.
Another couple has a tradition of having two dinner parties, one week apart, for members of both their families. At one they serve traditional Jewish food, at the other traditional Italian food. Both families learn to appreciate each other in a friendly gathering. They look forward to this cultural exchange every year. Holding to old traditions and customs is warm and loving but creating new traditions to enjoy every year is exciting and fun.
Traditions are something that make memories. Make a few new ones of your own design this year.