I’ve heard a lot of discussion lately, about traditions. Folks, like me, who are young-ish with young children, wondering how to create family traditions around the holidays. These conversations usually involve a recollection of the traditions a person brought with them into their new family — and there is either a desire to create something similar (because those memories are sweet) or a desire to do the complete opposite (because they are sour).
And, my goodness, what pressure. Or at least, it feels like that to me. I’ve more than once been accurately accused of being flighty; and while I can often remember a recipe I made once, I can’t remember to do things that I put on my google calendar (it helps, I suppose, to actually look at the calendar). While it’s true that I want to embrace what this season offers: a time to be with friends, family, and hopefully lots of good food — I’m not one to make a to-do list of things we will plan to do each and every year in order to establish traditions.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not something I am wired to do.
Plus, I tend to think that those activities will organically repeat themselves if we like them. My kids love helping me bake, it’s something they’re always eager to do. There are certain cookies/dishes/etc. we only make at Christmastime, so the makings of these things will inherently become tradition. We have enjoyed the last couple of years, being at home as a single-family unit, on Christmas morning. I don’t like to make a huge meal on Christmas day, but love a good brunch, and we’ve shared that low-key event a few times with friends; and while we don’t yet have brunch plans for Saturday, I can see that happening again, and therefore also falling into the category of “tradition.”
And right now, from where I sit, I’m thankful that I didn’t have a line-up of activities; because chances are we’d be missing them all. My 7-year old, my oldest who is, of my three children, the least likely to be sick, has been ill since Saturday night. Whatever has her, has her hard, and this has effectively shut us down for the week. While in my head I’d thought we’d be making linzers and other cookies, wrapping gifts together, maybe utilizing the time off to clean out a closet or two, instead it’s been laundry, toilet-scrubbing, keeping sibblings away from the sickie, LOTS of movies (my daughter complained that she’s watched too much), coaxing to eat, google-searching (no, she doesn’t have cholera), and praying that my other kids don’t get it. I have been wearing the same 20-year old sweatshirt for four days, and can’t exactly remember when I last showered. I have removed three sticks of butter to soften four days in a row, only to replace them in the refrigerator before going to bed, the cookie dough once again not made.
But won’t there be a conversation one day, about the year that she was sick for half her winter break? She might remember how badly she needed to wash her hair, or what movies she got sick of, or the fact that her 2-year old sister was just about the only thing that could make her laugh. Her brother, always a stickler for details, could recall that this was the year we didn’t make the Christmas cookies until after Christmas, and might come up with a new name for them, like After-Christmas cookies. We might all remember the snow, how much there was, a little unusual for Christmas in Indianapolis — and that she didn’t get to go outside to help build the snowman that fell the same night he was created.
And while I certainly don’t want to make a tradition of this week, it will hopefully still be the stuff that holiday memories are made of.