Yesterday, my youngest son and I were coming home from running errands just after the sun had set. As we were driving through our neighborhood, he commented on how cool and sparkly all the Christmas lights looked decorating our neighbor’s houses. This got me thinking about the late fall and winter time of year, or as I like to call it, hibernation season. I am not a fan of the months after the time change (which is completely annoying and pointless, by-the-way). It gets dark early. It gets cold. It triggers another layer of depression to blanket the layers that remain all year long. However, the holiday season isn’t too terrible. It can be stressful, but the lights and festive attitudes bring about childhood nostalgia, inner warmth, and comfort. Even this year, despite the pandemic, the holiday season still brings in the feelings of joy I remember having as a child. In fact, this year because of the pandemic, I feel less stress about the holidays.
This Christmas only my 4-piece family unit will be together to celebrate. While, I do miss my parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews, I do not miss the stress of buying presents for everyone, worrying about what food we will have on Christmas Eve (when my family celebrates Christmas as a large group), getting home early enough to get the kids to bed at a decent time, and the list goes on. Due to all these stressors, I haven’t had an opportunity to fully enjoy the spirit of the season for several years.
For the last few years, my husband and I have discussed completely throwing away our current holiday traditions; traditions created by our parents and grandparents. We want to create our own traditions; especially, now that our sons are getting older. I think our oldest son no longer believes in Santa. Our younger son (only 16 months younger than his brother) still believes, but this may very well be the last year he does. We have discussed, once the Santa hoopla is over, traveling during the holidays. We want to provide our sons with experiences instead of things. Obviously, we won’t be doing it this year, but I feel like next year may be the time to start. I know my mother will be upset. The Christmas Eve gathering is such a huge tradition in our family. This will be the first Christmas Eve in my entire life I haven’t spent with my extended family. I think one of the hardest parts about growing-up, and becoming an adult, is breaking from childhood family traditions to form your own. I have about ten years before my sons begin to venture out on their own. I want to form traditions with them that bring us all joy, not stress.
I have already provided them with experiences I never had as a child. My mother isn’t much of a traveller. My parents didn’t take me to theme parks. My older sister (13 years older than me) took me to my very first theme park when I was seven. She took me to Disney World when I was thirteen, and it was my first time flying in a plane. I could make a sizable list of experiences my children have already had that I never had as a child. My parents were not mean or neglectful; we just didn’t travel a lot. We stayed close to home. I spent the majority of my childhood at the beach, not a terrible childhood existence.
It’s hard to break from family holiday traditions. I don’t want to hurt my parents, especially my mom. My mom has a lot of quirks, but she’s done a damn good job at being a mom. I’m a grown-ass woman and still call my mother mommy. We all do. Even my fifty-two year old sister. My brother called her mommy, until the day he died (he was in his forties). To be honest if I could get her to travel with us for Christmas, I would. She won’t do it, but I would love for her to start a new tradition with us. Hell, I have a hard enough time getting her to travel to my house, and I live an hour from her. My dad will do whatever she wants; he goes with the flow.
To me the holiday season represents the grand finale to the year. It’s a way to wrap-up all the experiences and feelings of the year, and to reflect on all of it, the good and bad. Old traditions can morph into new ones. Even our Christmas Eve tradition has changed throughout the years, from where we would gather and celebrate, to how we exchanged presents, to how many children were in the family. I want to do away with the stress, frustration, and anxiety, I have come to experience in recent years. I want to approach this holiday season, and those in the future, with hope, joy, peace, and happiness. These are my 2020 (and beyond) Holiday Season goals.