Now that my daughters are older, our holiday traditions have changed. While I mourn some of the things we no longer do, we’ve created some meaningful new traditions that fit our changing demographic.
Kid #1: Nia is 21 with her own car, which means she could tell us, “I’m not coming home for Thanksgiving/Holiday break because I’m going ______________ with _______________.” That hasn’t happened yet, but it’s just a matter of time.
Kid #2: Kaia is 16 going on 38; a homebody who loves to cook. She’s always around for the holidays, and willing to do anything related to cooking. Other stuff… well…
Kid #3: Jaiya is 13, and goes along with whatever is happening. (Thank you, God.)
Thanksgiving to Christmas whooshed by when I was young. Dad preparing the sermons for holiday services and my mom preparing everything else at home while working full-time. Year after year, we ate copious spreads of delicious food, argued about whose turn it was to open the Advent calendar (until they wised up and bought three), lit the Advent wreath, and searched the house for hidden gifts. Still, the meaning of these holy days was not lost on us. I felt appropriately thankful, awestruck, and joyous as we grew ever closer to Jesus’ birth.
These days, my holiday season doesn’t much resemble my childhood. We don’t open Advent calendars every year. I have no idea where the Advent wreath is some years. We don’t cook nearly as much food, or the same foods, as I had growing up. I have a very different approach to gift giving than my parents did; we celebrate Jesus’ birthday on Christmas, and the gifts are to the Jesus that is part of us.
What carries on is our love for each other: our little family of five is the most precious thing in the world to me. Preparing for Jesus’ birth is a reminder to us all about what it’s like to welcome such a miracle in to the world. Those feelings stayed with me all these years, and live on through our new family traditions.
Thankfully, my husband David loves to decorate for the holidays. Now that Nia is gone until right before Christmas, he and the girls get the tree Thanksgiving weekend, so that we can all decorate it together. (Reminder: go water the tree.) It’s one of the new traditions we started a couple of years ago. We didn’t realize how important being together to decorate the tree was for us until the first year Nia wasn’t there.
We talk about the ornaments as the girls hang them. I remind them about where, when, and who made which ornaments, or who gave which to whom. We argue about the details, we argue about the ones the girls feel are too ugly to hang. But I insist that all homemade ornaments have a place of honor on the tree, because they symbolize the light of Jesus flickering, burning and growing in them as they grew each year.
Decorating the tree is such a tangible, visual way to connect the dots on why it’s important to prepare to witness the birth of our Savior, to see him as a little baby and know that so many amazing and wonderful things would happen. And so they do with my girls. We will continue to modify our traditions and create new ones. As the girls continue to grow, we’ll have to find new ways to do the same thing: celebrate the miracle that is the baby Jesus.
Do your holiday traditions change as your family grows up? How?