Skipping Christmas

Here are some thoughts I put down in December and recently found in an unmarked file again….I considered them from a different perspective now, and still decided to post the piece. Hindsight is 20/20…

With the impending Christmas season upon us, we are quickly thrown into a frenzy of decorations, gingerbread houses, shopping and mailing Christmas cards. Every family has their own holiday traditions; perhaps attending church, a carol sing, baking shortbread, watching movies in bed, potluck dinners, volunteering in the community, wrapping presents, last minute shopping. Each tradition as unique as the family who carry them out; in my family we eat Chinese food every Christmas Eve without fail.This year will be difficult for me with the loss of my Mother in the fall, and yet I find myself in an internal struggle between clinging to the Christmases of years gone by and a desire to skip Christmas altogether. No matter what our year has been like, when stores turn from black and orange to red and green, we are conditioned to start buying toys, plan parties and prepare for Christmas baking, and so we begin our annual march to the end of December.What is it about the holidays and family traditions that keep us grounded no matter what life throws at us? Why do we find security in doing the things we’ve always done at this time of year? Every year since I was born I have woken up Christmas morning in my parents home and opened presents. Ten years ago, I married my husband and we have since had two children and still every year we go to my parents’ house on December 24 and spend 2 days carrying out all the familiar traditions that I have held so dear for so many years.


This year my husband and I have decided to take our children and go away for a couple of days, no turkey, no extended family and very few typical family traditions. So how can we maintain a semblance of our family’s tradition in the midst of family upheaval and a desire to escape a potentially painful holiday?

Well, we’ve bought the presents, and we’ll get a small tree to put in the hotel room. And my father is coming with us, so we’ll all wake up on Christmas morning and open our presents and have breakfast, remembering previous holidays and hoping for future Christmas mornings. Because the traditions that are so dear to us are not important b/c of outside influences, but rather b/c they help us remember how important quality family time is. Traditions remind us of all the wonderful times we have spent together and fortify us for the year to come as we travel through our often tumultuous lives.


Now as I sit on the other side of Christmas I read the above musings and I realize that we did the right thing; we kept the traditions that we needed (quality time with my father, husband and children, phoning my-laws in South America, presents under the tree, leisurely breakfast etc) and we skipped the traditions that were less vital at least for this year (turkey dinner, pumpkin pie, Chinese food on Christmas eve)

It was the best Christmas we could have had under the circumstances and hopefully we have created some new traditions that will remind us of this year and help us as we find our way through the next year of our lives.


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