The holidays are hard. They became increasingly hard for us when we moved 3000 miles away from our families but I think they were hard there, too. We were torn between when we should see each parent and didn’t take a lot of time to think about what we wanted our holidays to look like, instead just went through the motions of what we needed to do.
When we moved, we started to think about our own traditions. Now that we have been in our new town for four years we have developed some that belong to us. We have traditions about how we get our christmas tree and buying a new ornament every year and filling our christmas stockings. But while we have developed some traditions each year our holidays have looked different. We have gone to different friend’s houses or had different people at ours. We don’t have set Thanksgiving or Christmas plans and while we always have a nice time we struggle to define our family traditions.
Our best friends are mad at us. One of our best friends is mad at me. We went to their house yesterday for Thanksgiving and it was mildly awkward. I don’t really know why she is mad. I know what it centers around but I don’t really know what the actual issue is. I found this out Wednesday. It was too late to really change Thanksgiving plans but as a result of this we were uninvited at the last minute to an event today – one of their family traditions that we have joined in the past. A family tradition that I had hoped was ours as well as I consider them our extended family here.
I’m not mad that she is mad at me. I find some of the ways it is being handled to be irritating but people have the right to feel how they feel. I am sad about the loss of stability. This is the first year that we have done the same thing for Thanksgiving two years in a row. Traditions between our family and theirs have blended in many ways and I liked having a stable extended family unit. It may be an overreaction on my part (I mean, what is a family holiday without drama?) but I now feel the fine tune our own traditions and hold tight my small family unit.
This is a bit complicated around Christmas. This is where we have the most traditions that are solely ours but it is also what will change the most when we have a child. When we have a child we do not plan to celebrate Christmas. We want to keep many of the traditions alive but center them around Solstice. Neither of us are religious and we have a hard time with having family traditions center around a religious holiday. We don’t do this now, though, so we will have a drastic shift around this when we have a child. This will have a lot of complications – first explaining it to our families, then reworking and figuring out new traditions, and then at some point explaining to our child why we do not celebrate a holiday their friends and family celebrate. We already know we’ll spend a lot of time listening to The Christians and the Pagans.
Our roommate, K, brought up something I know to be true when talking about this last night. She said that our child will not know what our traditions are until they are a few years old. I know we have time to fine tune these things and figure out what works for us but I want them to know these traditions were always there. I think about the pictures I have of me, year after year, sitting under the Christmas tree with my siblings and cousins at my aunt’s house on Christmas day. Many pictures are from before I remember but I know my family traditions were in place long before I was in the picture. Now we’re grown and live in different states and I don’t see my family for the holidays. I talk to my mom on facetime and call my dad but sometimes don’t even talk to my siblings on Christmas. When I think about these things I realize that the desire for family traditions isn’t completely about what I want for a child but something for me and Pot, too. So today I decided that our day after Thanksgiving tradition involves spending the day in pajamas watching bad made for tv Christmas movies and working on crafting our niece’s and nephew’s holiday gifts . And as for Christmas – we’ll keep building our traditions. They may shift as our family grows but no matter what they’ll center around our family and years from now we can sit and look at pictures and see the continuum and recognize the traditions and know they are ours.