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4 Holiday Traditions I’m Giving Up This Year (and One I’m Keeping)

It’s a time that many of us look forward to all year. The decor, the recipes, the parties. The traditions. While there are some traditions that make the holiday season worth anticipating, there are some traditions I seem to carry year to year that I would like to forgo this year.

1. Trying to anticipate the perfect gift.

Surprising people with the “perfect” gift is a lofty goal and one I’ve rarely met. For years I’ve had this fantasy of being able to read the minds of my friends and loved ones, or recall some offhand comment made during a casual conversation, and come up with the gift that has the receiver saying “How did you KNOW?!” And what usually happens is me stressing for weeks over what to get them and end up buying a gift card. This year, I’m just going to ask. Is it as cinematic as making an excellent guess? No. Will it ensure that the receiver gets exactly what they want? Yes.

2. Pretending that I won’t be eating all of the things.

Every year, I try to avoid holiday weight gain. I make a list of foods and sweets I won’t be eating. I check it twice. And then I eat everything on my list and beat myself up over it. This year, I am owning the fact that I will totally be eating all of the things. As will everybody else. Really, who actually cares?

3. Stressing over creating the perfect memories.

Have you ever created a Pinterest board in November of the cookies you’re going to bake and leave for Santa? (Who am I kidding; of course you have!) Have you done that with a two-year-old who was going to be absolutely no help in the kitchen? This year, I’m going to let the holiday memories come organically. After all, my favorite childhood holiday memories often came from something no one in my family would have thought to plan, like my cousins and I running a pretend pizza parlor on Thanksgiving.

No more planning the perfect Christmas Eve in my head, and being disappointed when everybody is too tired to go drive around 15 neighborhoods to admire everybody’s Christmas lights. Once you’ve seen one crystal ball LED fairy snowflake strobe curtain light, you’ve seen them all, amirite?

4. Stressing over spending enough time with family members on the Actual Holiday.

There is a lot of pressure every year to spend each holiday with every member of every family. When you’re married, and your in-laws are married, and your family has in-laws, and everybody lives in different towns and states, that gets complicated. You may be one of those enlightened people who celebrates Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. early in order to get all the families in.

It doesn’t work that way in either my family, or my in-laws’, so I’m often feeling the pull and twinge of guilt that I can’t spend the holiday itself with certain people. This year, though, I’ve decided to put more value in the time spent with family on other days. Hanging out with my nephews at EdFest or my in-laws at a wedding is no less valuable just because it’s not recognized as a federal holiday.

5. The Tradition I’m keeping: letting my kids be kids.

Seeing my kids excited about something, be it making a list for Santa, eating holiday desserts, or singing carols makes the season for me. The last thing I want to do is quell the fun and wonder of this time of year for them, so if they want to watch Polar Express for the eighth time, they will. If they want to have hot chocolate with their spaghetti, the only question I have is “with marshmallows or whipped cream?” They have plenty of time to stress over how many pies to serve at Thanksgiving. The holiday tradition I hope they carry into adulthood is simply holding on to the joy and wonder of this time of year.

What traditions are you going to let go of this year?

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