23 December 2016

Adaptable Traditions


Today I'm taking another turn contributing a post to sprite's Virtual Advent Tour.  Before saying anything else, I have to tell you that it has been so great to read everyone's posts this year.  I hope she will consider hosting again next year.

Part of what makes the whole thing so interesting is finding out how people "do" holidays.  To some degree, it's all variations on a central theme, but I don't think anyone celebrates holidays *exactly* like anyone else.

Now as anyone who knows me knows, I truly love Christmastime.  All of it.  I like making/buying gifts for others.  I like wrapping gifts.  I like baking goodies.  And I love decorating.  Just to name a few things ...

Years ago, I remember reading an article in the newspaper written by a family therapist, and she said that most of the couples who come to her had issues with two topics:  Money and holiday traditions. I read that part out loud to The Tim, and then said, "Fortunately, we agree on money issues, and we've never argued about how to celebrate holidays."  And he responded, "That's because we've always done it your way."

The short version of the discussion that followed was that first and foremost, he was giving me a hard time, and secondly, there were very few traditions that seemed overly important to his family, so he was more than happy to adjust to how I wanted to do things.

Which is lovely, and we have had wonderful holidays throughout our marriage.  And I realize that I do take it all more to heart than he does.  Everyone teases me, for instance, about my "Christmas Rules" (many of them), which of course I feel everyone should follow.  Intellectually, I accept that everyone does things their own way, and should be able to do just that; emotionally, I am convinced they should follow my example ... ;-)

Having said that, we have adjusted some of our traditions as well as created new ones over the years.  Originally, we both used to have jobs where we could either take the week between Christmas and New Year's off, or could take the time off without any problem.  So we would travel to be with our families.  It was always fun, and there are so many happy memories from those times.

Once The Tim started working in retail, not only did we no longer travel at Christmastime, but we had to adjust to the fact that he couldn't take any time off, and was also required to work six days a week during December instead of only five.  Trust me, that took some adjustment!  But now it's the usual, and though I would love to be able to see more people and do more things at holiday time, we still have the best time ever.

Traditions are open to interpretation, is what I'm saying.  So if there are any of you struggling because you can't do things this year the way you have always done them before, remember that the holidays are supposed to be fun.  And no one can have fun if all they can think about is what they are missing.

13 comments:

Bonny said...

True and well-said! Christmas this year is really different here, but once I started thinking about which parts were really important to me, it has been fun and freeing. I baked lots of cookies, but no tree (aside from my actual Charlie Brown tree which I love), and no stockings. I've shopped less and fretted less. Next year might be different, but I'm glad I'm finally learning to relax my expectations. A very Merry Christmas to you and Tim, and all the best in the New Year!

Nance said...

I completely agree about Holiday Traditions: they should be for adding joy and love to the Holiday, not for slavish obedience to the point of ruining everyone's enjoyment.

Several years ago, I wrote a series of posts on my blog about just that thing, a collection of Pressure Busting Tips (about 20 of them, each with a personal narrative) to remind us that the holidays are about the Journey and not the Destination.

It's hard to take my own advice sometimes. Christmas can be a Bigass Deal.

Araignee said...

So true...I've been cutting loose outdated traditions this year and trying to adapt to a scaled down version. I've got mixed emotions but it is what it is and on the 26th life will go on...

Tired Teacher said...

I'm single so most of my holidays have been spent with my sister's family; thus, I've adapted to their traditions. I still long for many of the things my Mom did at the holidays: I'm more low key than my sister.

Dee said...

I think that last line sums it up perfectly.

Christmas has NEVER been a favorite holiday of mine, but the sentiment contained in that last line really could apply to all of life. New days . . . new ways.

Hope you and the Tim have a wonderful Christmas with all your fur-kids. Wishing you all the best in 2017 and days filled with all the joy your hearts can hold.

kathy b said...

This is a great post. I awoke worrying everyone might not be having the PERFECT time here. But we are together. With time. Time to let our selves create a silly memory. Playing games. Knitting to finish a present yesterday. Al and I started a gingerbread house making tradition this year.
merry CHristmas to you and Tim. I LOVE the holiday. IM usually sad afterwards when it is over. THis year with both kids going BACK to their lives, I must not be sad. I must be thankful they love us, include us and a very much a part of our apart lives.

KSD said...

I'm learning about the necessity of adaptation with Daughter choosing Boyfriend's family for Christmas, and Son having to work.

AsKatKnits said...

This! Yes!! And, while there is a part of me that would love to be with my kids - not getting this should not ruin my Christmas, or Steve's or my kids because I am all mopey and sad! Beautiful post, Bridget! Thank you so much for this LOVELY reminder!!

steph said...

adapting and compromises are what makes a happy home---no matter what time of year! :) Hope you all have a wonderful happy holiday!!!! And enjoy all those traditions! (I know we enjoy ours!!!!!)

Vera said...

Such a nice post Bridget. Thank you. Seems like every year brings changes and sometimes that can be hard. I'm trying (and I believe succeeding) to go with the flow and just enjoy. Going to yoga tomorrow morning to relax!

Wanderingcatstudio said...

I can totally see therapists making a lot of money over Christmas! For the first few years Dave and I were together, there was a lot of tension over Christmas - mainly because his family wanted it ALL. Dave is an only child, and for a very long time, he was also the only grandchild (even now, there's only one other grandchild). For whatever reason, he was expected to spend Christmas Eve with his Grandma and Mother at Grandma's house. Then he was to be back the next more for Christmas Day breakfast -then over to his uncle's for Christmas dinner. Then back to his uncles for Boxing Day open house. Even if I had no family I wanted to see, I'm an introvert and that's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much togetherness for me. (And the family all live within five minutes of each other, so it's not like it's the only time they go together - at that time they still did huge Sunday dinners almost every Sunday.)

The first couple of years there was a lot of tension (and a few fights) over it, but now we've set our boundaries. They aren't happy about it, but they know what to expect. We alternate - Christmas Eve with one family, then Christmas day with the other, and then switch it next the next year.

This year, we're both really sick, and I've got to say, I'm really looking forward to not going ANYWHERE! (Though I am going to miss my Dad's stuffing).

I guess what I'm trying to say is... I agree... it's just a day, it's suppose to be fun, and traditions evolve and change as our situations do. That's the beauty of being human!

Wishing you and The Tim a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Kym said...

Perfect -- and so very true! My Christmas is quite different this year . . . and, I must say, perfectly enjoyable. Different . . . doesn't have to mean "bad."

Merry Christmas to you, Bridget. I hope you enjoy every moment! XO

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Exactly. You are right. It's sad when we argue about silly things like holidays.

http://readerbuzz.blogspot.com.