The Traditional One
Christmas is a holiday of tradition. Growing up, I often snuck out of my room around 3 or 4 AM to take a quick peek at all the presents before my older siblings and parents were awake. It was almost like taking inventory — even feeling out the stockings to see if there were any shapes in there that I wanted. I don’t think I’ve ever told my parents about that before but it was a tradition I held to myself and loved so deeply until I outgrew it.
These days I feel lucky to virtually join so many others’ traditions through social media. Decorating cookies, admiring neighborhood Christmas lights, dressing in matching pajamas, hosting neighborhood holiday parties, skiing, singing, traveling, and more. But it never fails to make me curious how each family’s traditions have changed through the years.
Our family switched from Christmas morning to Christmas Eve when my sister got married. We still had ham and turkey and the whole Christmas dinner but it was one day early. And then with nieces and nephews, we simplified to chili and potato soup with a “get it when you’re hungry” kind of style. We played games late into the night and handled the next day as it came.
These traditions changed again when Ty and I got married — we now share every holiday because our parents live so close to one another. Christmas Eve is for the Slobodniks while Christmas Day is for the Arnolds. We adjust as needed but for the most part, that's our unspoken rule.
Change is hard and the initial thought of changing traditions can be daunting, especially because the word "tradition" holds such a heavy meaning. I get nostalgic when the things I'm used to become something of the past and I can often start to feel sorry for myself that things aren't how they used to be.
But then I snap out of it. I remember how lucky I am to be a part of multiple traditions every year. That I have so many friends and family members that my traditions are forced to change so I can grow with them and we can spend time together. That I'm lucky to have the job I do so I can be home for the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve and any days surrounding them. That we're so lucky to be forced to change as our families grow because that means we're healthy and starting all new traditions of our own.
This year was a hard one. I know people who recently lost grandparents and parents. I know a family who devastatingly lost their home and pup to a fire the day after Christmas. I know people close to me who are about to enter the fight with cancer. And all that aside, I'm thankful.
Thankful for a God who loves with greater love than we can understand. I'm thankful for friends and family who support each other in their times of hardship, no matter how close you are or how long it's been since you talked last. And I'm thankful for traditions — that even when they change, they're full of an inexplainable magic that makes us feel whole and wanted year after year.