One of the biggest struggles I’ve had with the holidays since college is keeping up with traditions.
It’s that awkward stage when you’re no longer home all the time, you’re working a lot, and if you’re dating someone, things really get mixed up. Sometimes you’re forced to miss out on family traditions, and sometimes you opt out to partake in someone else’s traditions. And then there’s that point when people begin creating their own.
I love consistency, and it’s hard for me to stray away from traditions. In fact, traditions are one of my favorite parts about the holidays, and I don’t like missing certain things. For example, after I moved away for college, I wasn’t home in time to help pick out the Christmas tree anymore or help decorate it.
My family always puts Christmas lights on the house Thanksgiving afternoon. We always attend a Christmas Eve service at church and then wait to open presents until Christmas morning. We serve the same thing for Christmas breakfast every year.
I make peanut butter balls every December. My mom always bakes the mailman cookies and leaves them in the mailbox. We watch Christmas movies generally every night and Elf more times than I want to admit. (I watched it four times last weekend!) And for New Year’s Eve, my mom and I always put together a jigsaw puzzle.
Traditions are important and part of what make the holidays fun and memorable. But sometimes, I get more caught up in traditions than what really matters. Holidays are more of a time for families to gather together and create new memories than for sticking to the “right” way of doing things.
This year, I’ve had to adjust to spending the holidays with my family as well as my boyfriend’s family. I don’t like to break traditions, but sharing the holidays with two families means that things will change. I won’t be able to participate in every tradition like I used to but instead will have to create a balance between my traditions and new ones.
That means I had to miss out on helping my mom prepare for Thanksgiving dinner because we spent the afternoon having lunch with my boyfriend’s family. Even though I could prepare a few dishes the night before and we made it back in time to have dinner with my family, it was still a hard adjustment. Things were different.
And this year, for the first time, I have to think about spending Christmas with two different families. I have more traditions at Christmas than any other holiday. I have to keep reminding myself that traditions change and that they aren’t the most important part of the holidays. Family is important, and we should care more about spending holidays with people we love than keeping traditions.
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? How have your traditions changed over the years as you’ve gone away to college and moved out on your own? For those of you who are married, did you start your own traditions or incorporate traditions from both sides of the family?