Saturday, November 28, 2009

Traditions- Do or Die

I've always envied the families that have well entrenched family traditions and I've rather lamented the lack of my own family traditions. I have fond memories of holidays- but the memories are few and far between, unfortunately. Since my mom reads my blog- here's my personal request for a Christmas gift... a journal of holiday memories from my childhood. I would love to know how we handled Thanksgiving when I was growing up. most of my memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas start later in my childhood. Creating traditions for our own family is very important to me. I feel like traditions help to root us into our families. Traditions provide a firm foundation for our children to build on when they begin their own families. Some traditions come about just by happenstance. Some by necessity. Some by design. For me, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season. And I like for this long weekend to be chock full of traditions. First, we drive to Ohio to spend Thanksgiving day with my family. My mom, dad, brothers, my aunt and uncle, my cousin. Friday- prepare the house for the setting up of the Christmas Tree and decorations. That evening, take a ride over to Reynolds (John Deere retailer that sets up a HUGE light display every year- totally free for the community) and drive through the light display. Saturday- Thanksgiving with Jeff's family. His parents, his sister, her husband, their 2 kids. Sunday- Setting up the tree. We invite Christy and Brian over, I make dinner, we set up and decorate the tree. So far... this year... well... We went to Ohio for the day on Thursday and saw everyone and had a nice time. I made cranberry sauce, turtle pumpkin pie, and provided a variety of appetizers. Mom made turkey and roasted carrots and potatoes. She and Teagan made scalloped potatoes together. There were rolls and gravy. We celebrated my cousin Ryan's achievement- he recently passed the bar and is now, officially, an attorney. We caught up with my Aunt Martha and Uncle Jesse. We joked around with Daniel and Ted. Jeff and Brian talked comics. The kids ran around like crazy people. It was a good day. Friday, I busted my hump cleaning up my house. I made my living room livable. I rearranged furniture and cleaned out dusty corners and made space for the Christmas tree. I cleaned the kitchen and cleared out a boatload of junk that had taken over the kitchen floor. I made dinner and we loaded into the car to get ice cream and then go see the light display at Reynold's. So what do you do when grumpiness interferes with tradition? How do you handle a Scrooge or Grinch? Especially if it's an adult? With kids, even if I don't always make the best choice on dealing with them, at least I know what needs to happen and I have strategies on how to deal with them. But when it's an adult... Fake it? Force it? Exclude them? Fight to the death? Change plans in order to avoid conflict? What do you do? You, my readers. What do you do when there is an adult in your presence that is making it difficult for the entire group to enjoy what is going on? What do you do if you realize that YOU are the one making life difficult for the rest? How important are the traditions when they don't seem to be important to everyone involved?


Mellodee said...

Sometimes traditions take time to grow over years. If not everyone around you enjoys what you enjoy, pick a time to have a "family discussion" on the meaning of tradition, why its important to you, what they would like the traditions to be, etc. And if it is something that means a lot to you, hang on to it! They are your holidays too! Sometimes kids don't appreciate traditions until they're older and look back on their memories. And that's when traditions get carried into the future. If a spouse or other adult family member is giving you a hard time, try to work around it. Remembering at all times, that each family member has a different understanding of what the holiday should be and how much they are able to participate. If you try to keep it light too, that will help. After all, laughter and good times are a tradition too. Happy Holidays to you.

p.s. and if all else fails and no one wants to do traditional things at all, find some things that you like to do and do them alone or with a good friend(go shopping, have lunch out, take a walking tour through a decorated neighborhood, serve meals at a shelter, there are a million possibilities!)

Mary said...

Sometimes just because an event is a "tradition" that's been fun in the past, doesn't mean it's going to be fun this time, I have found through experience. We've had to cancel (or maybe postpone for a few more years?) several lovely activities Dave and used I do around the holidays because the kids or we adults just get too overwhelmed. My personality is such that I can't manage more than one family "event" per weekend, or I cease to have fun and consider them chores instead. So I try to choose/plan carefully to keep the activity down to a dull roar.

If we find ourselves out with an adult party pooper, we usually try to ignore them and shorten the trip.

Teacher Tom said...

We have a 15 ft. living room ceiling and my wife has always insisted on a tree that scrapes the rafters. This has meant driving out to a tree farm, cutting a big-ass tree and tying it to the roof of my Subaru, then transporting it on an Interstate highway to our home.

I hated this tradition, even while I love the tree in our living room. It's a pain to install, to light, and to decorate. I find it incredibly stressful, especially with that wind-sail of a tree on my car roof doing 65 mph.

Several years ago, after getting the tree, I was pulling onto the freeway. My daughter said from the back seat, "This is the dangerous part."

I asked, "What do you mean?"

She said, "This is when you say, 'If the tree falls off on the freeway, we're not going back for it and we'll have to get a $4 tree at the grocery store.'"

As the years went on, we began to refer the the entire process of the tree as the "annual cursing of the tree."

Sometimes the grumpiness becomes part of the the tradition. =)