It can be difficult to make holidays your own. What I mean by this is that most of our holiday traditions are passed down from our parents. We do things each and every year– some things we may not even enjoy — because … well … that’s just what we have always done.
Not having traditions that are truly your own may not matter that much when you are fresh out of school or in your mid-20s and fairly uncommitted. In fact, it may be reassuring to have something as consistent as putting up your grandmother’s lights or eating your mother’s dry turkey (Sorry Mom, still love you).
But as you settle down and have a family of your own, I think it’s important to let go of some of the passed-down traditions that each holiday season brings. The reason for this is simple. If you don’t let go of some of these traditions, how will you ever have room for your own?
This was a slow and hard lesson for me to learn; mainly because growing up the holidays were always amazing with my family. I will never forget how hard we all laughed, playing games at my mother’s annual Christmas Eve party. Or the look on my grandfather’s face as he walked up the hall into the livingroom, with hidden presents he had stored away for each of the grandkids. I will never forget the taste of my family’s stuffing or the fact that there are always two pies to every one person who shows up for a meal. these memories are special, and part of what helps make the holidays so special.
For a few years in my late-20s, the holidays seemed to lose some of their shine. It always felt like a mad scramble trying to do everything that was expected and also the things that I wanted to do. There are years where you spend more time with your windshield than your family. Getting married can add to this simply because you now have two sets of traditions and activities to be part of with no more time.
Having a child in many ways helps to solve some of these issues. This will be our son’s third Christmas, but really the first where he seems to fully understand what is about to happen. You can almost feel his excitement when he stares at our tree, and the lights on the neighborhood houses.
My wife and I know the importance of making sure we spend part of each holiday season with family, but also have made room in our lives to come up with our own holiday traditions; ones that are important to us that we want to share with our son.
This became clear to me this past weekend when the Festival of Lights Parade in Bangor was canceled due to bad weather. What some may think is just a parade has become one of the things we look most forward to as a family. We love the atmosphere of Downtown Bangor and all the lights and music the parade brings.
Other traditions that are evolving with our young family is going to cut down a Christmas tree each year. We do this from a small tree farm in Eddington owned by my former boss. He loves seeing our son each year and we love bringing him there.
We make chocolates, attend church and watch the “Grinch” because it is my son’s favorite (and he is a little young for Christmas Vacation). My company rents out Playland Adventures in Brewer so those of us with kids can let them all run amok together on a Saturday morning.
These are all things we look forward to and would’t be able to do if we still honored the same holiday commitments we grew up with. So while it is important to make time for all the people in your life each and every holiday season, it is OK to be selective in what you choose to do. It’s the only way to make the holidays your own and to fully enjoy them.