Everyone likes to do things their own way and holiday traditions are no different. There’s nothing like the holidays as a parent. But the holidays between Thanksgiving and New Years can be fraught with conflict.
To kids, they are a magical time described in the movie A Christmas Story as “Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas… around which the entire kid year revolved.” The holidays can be fun for adults too, but they involve a lot more planning and a lot more thought.
We hear a lot about “holiday traditions” around this time of year.
But who gets to decide which traditions get passed down and which do not?
The short answer is that it depends.
- Is one extended family closer than the other?
- Does the child’s personality support one activity over another?
- Are your choices limited by cost?
- Did you just move somewhere new and unfamiliar?
- Does one parent have stronger opinions about a tradition than the other?
My husband and I have different opinions on Christmas lights.
Oh, we’ve agreed on things like whether we should put them up at all (yes!). But my family grew up with bright lights — the brighter the better — both on the tree and outside. In fact, on the tree, we would use these large bulbs and put aluminum light cuffs (think silver cupcake wrapper style) behind them in a mismatched smorgasbord of razzle-dazzle.
Then, my sisters and I each had a third of the tree (one side each) to put up all of our own ornaments — everything from homemade macaroni noodles shaped like Santa Claus to pretty angels that our grandparents gave us.
However, my husband likes a more subtle white-lights-only look.
What compromise did we reach? We decided to use white lights because I don’t really care that much about color. The white has grown on me and he hasn’t specified exactly how many white lights are too many, so I get to add to them each year. This year, that includes a 3-foot blinking snowflake in our front window.
I’ve also found ways to add some color around the house in ways other than lights.
Between window clings on the windows, nutcrackers on the mantle, garland on the bookshelves, and red placemats on the table, I get enough color in to make me happy.
But what if you have something you just can’t give up, like spending Christmas Day with your family, that your partner just refuses to agree to?
I’d suggest choosing a third way. Alternate families on that day or just take Christmas Day as your own little family day. You could even go spend it in another city. I’m giving you permission to create what works best for your family.
What are some possible other new holiday traditions you could consider?
The options are infinite—from seeing a new Santa, to putting up a new type of tree or different color lights, to making a different holiday treat, or actually going to watch that Christmas parade. So do yourself a favor, and be open to trying something new. You might find something that you enjoy that you haven’t found before.
And don’t forget that everything is new to your kids, so they won’t even know or care if it’s new to you, too. You also have my permission to stop old traditions if you don’t enjoy them or they just don’t fit your family anymore.
Nothing ruins the holidays like obligations.
One day, years from now, your kids will look back and say, “Remember when we did _____ for Christmas? That was so fun!” They won’t care where it came from or how long it’s been happening; they just care that you were making the holidays magical for them. With a little bit of old and a dash of new mixed together, your family will make the holidays their own.