New holiday traditions

Growing up, Thanksgiving meant spending the whole day with my aunt, cousins, and, when we did it as her house, her big dog. We alternated houses for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and I always looked forward to the years she did Thanksgiving, since it meant we could sit around watching the parade in the morning instead of peeling potatoes. Besides that, there was nothing really amazing about the holidays that made them spectacular. But you get used to little traditions like playing the same games with your cousins, the same arguments between uncles, even the same ancient beaters mixing the whipped cream.

None of that happened this year, since we weren’t at my aunt’s house, but at my sister’s. And with two new babies in addition to an energetic toddler, to say things were a little crazy is an understatement. When we got there around 10 and saw the turkey still sitting on the counter, I wondered how we were ever going to eat at 2, as we always had growing up. But my sister had planned on eating at normal dinner time.

I wasn’t going to argue with a sleep-deprived new mother, but it got me thinking about the new holiday traditions we’re in the process of creating for our kids. Having been gone for nearly a decade means I didn’t create any new, adult traditions with my family. I am stuck a bit in my nostalgia for the holidays of my youth, and stressing about making sure my husband and son have the same memories. Which I realize is impossible, but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about it! While Thanksgiving is purely American and my husband has no particular notion of what it is “supposed” to be, I know that Christmas is a much bigger deal for him and as it’s his first Christmas away from his family, I am putting extra pressure on myself to make it special.

I keep reminding myself that Monkey is still too young to know one way or another what happens. He didn’t care that Thanksgiving was at 6 instead of 2. He won’t notice is we do an advent calendar this year and not next year. He certainly doesn’t care if I spend hours knitting him a Christmas stocking (though I hope he appreciates it in the future). But I’ve somehow convinced myself I need to figure it out by next year, when he might maybe start to remember things…

Holidays, family, nostalgia, youth. All sorts of emotions involved. I know the best thing to do is not to stress at all and just enjoy it, and they will too. Neither my husband nor my son will hate me if there’s not a picture of us with Santa Clause this year, or if we don’t see any Christmas trees other than our own. But their feelings about a grumpy and grinchy mother/wife will probably not be very positive and will have a much bigger impact on their memories of our holidays together.


2 thoughts on “New holiday traditions”

  1. Oh lord, the holidays this year… I can’t even really think about Christmas presents much less prepare a Thanksgiving dinner! Your sister is amazing!

    I guess the key with those traditions is to create some that make you happy, but not stress you out… though I know the holidays are often very stressful for moms. We have a Thanksgiving tradition of celebrating with friends but for Christmas we’ve just followed what J’s family has always done. And he’s too tiny this year to care—next year also. After that maybe we’ll start working on them (=ask my mom to sew him a stocking).

    1. Babies must be so confused by Christmas. So many colors, and new people holding them, and new smells… Do try and stick with his regular schedule though, even if it means less people get to see him – they’re not the ones who will deal with the cranky baby later, lol.

      He just told me too that the huge family meal I’m used to in France only started maybe 10 years ago, when one grandmother didn’t want to do it for her side anymore, so an aunt combined both sides. It’s not what they did growing up. I feel like that gives me permission to change things as time goes by. What he will really consider the “tradition” is something we may not do until he’s 10 or 15. Phew!

      But we were in NH this weekend and went on the Santa Holiday Express train and that might be one tradition I start now. It was pretty cool.

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