Traditions are funny things. They are, by definition, a pattern. It’s tradition for me to put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving. It’s tradition for me to give the niece and nephew an ornament each year. Every year I do the same things.
But traditions change, too. They evolve. It used to be tradition that I went to see my extended family on Christmas day up until a few years ago. Now it’s tradition to stay home and open presents and relax (because it’s something I’ve always wanted but never had as a kid). Christmas with the extended family on my mom’s side used to mean a tree you could barely see because there were so many presents piled around it. Now the tree is more simple, and there are only presents for their children (my mom and uncles and spouses) but not the grandchildren. There’s a little sadness in that for me. It isn’t the presents, though that makes me a bit sad, too. I think it’s that, as an adult, you see things differently. You know the why and how. You see things for what they really are instead of having the lens of childhood innocence to tint your view a different, happy shade.
Traditions change, and it has taken me 30 years to realize it. I can’t believe I’m finally realizing that I don’t have to follow tradition just because “it’s tradition.” I don’t have to do something if I don’t enjoy it. I don’t have to make something work just for the sake of keeping tradition. All I have to do is what makes us all happiest, and say no to the rest. No to making 10 different kinds of cookies and candies, yes to just the one or two we actually enjoy. No to the pressure of making everything hour and minute special, yes to keeping it simple and laid back (which is our style, anyway). No to letting anyone dictate what our traditions should be, yes to doing what works for us.
Just a happy, simple holiday season for probably the first time ever in my life.