The holidays are without a doubt my favorite season. Colder weather, shorter days, cheerful music everywhere, and food so good you have a pair of elastic-waist pants on standby. Growing up, it was the most wonderful time of the year. We always did the big potluck with everyone in the family and there would always be laughter, stories, and games.
As time went on, the crowd started to change. Older members could not make the trip, cousins were spending their holidays with in-laws, and, sadly, some members passed away. It was difficult and made me long for children even more than usual so there was a new generation to continue the festivities. Life has a sense of humor, though. This will be my third holiday season as a mom, and my third without the old family traditions.
The first year was our choice to skip out on the family get together. We had a newborn and were sleep deprived. We did most of our celebrating at home in pajamas. When we did make our family rounds, we cut the visits short. The second year, due to a company relocation, we were 2,000 miles away from everyone we knew. In the blink of an eye, we are now in the third year. We’re still far from home and haven’t met many people yet (working on it!). Oh, and now I am a mom of TWO boys!
It is so easy to get caught up in the stress and loneliness of the holidays, especially when things are nothing like you remember. So here are some ways that I am embracing the changes and creating new holiday traditions with my young family:
- MENU. Since we won’t be a part of the big get together, I don’t have to stick with what’s expected. For us ,that means: Ham instead of turkey! Lemon meringue and apple pie instead of pumpkin and pecan! NO marshmallow-covered yams!
- AMOUNT OF FOOD. Ok, maybe there are just four of us (including one who has no teeth) but that doesn’t mean there can’t be full dishes of our favorites. It does, however, mean that we don’t have to fight for a second (or fifth) dinner roll and that there will be plenty of leftovers.
- DECORATIONS. It’s true what they say, everything is bigger in Texas! So, even with EVERY single item we had up, the new house still didn’t look decorated. The plus side here? No pressure to get it done right away since no family would see it. Hello after-holiday sales—I loaded up last year! This year the house will look much better and I got most of it for AT LEAST 50% off.
- GIFTS. Since shipping is now involved, gone are my days of last-minute, meaningless impulse buys just to say I got something. Gifts are more thoughtful and I make sure to include hand-print ornaments and pictures from throughout the year.
- TECHNOLOGY. Living so far from everyone is hard, but technology helps ease that. We don’t have to wait until after 7 pm to make long-distance phone calls anymore! Plus, with all the video chat options, we still get to see each other’s faces.
- ACTIVITIES. The kids are still too young to do a ton, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. There are Santa visits, cookie decorating, and ornament making. These are in addition to my favorites of reading or watching our favorite holiday movies while sipping hot chocolate. Catch my post on Christmas books for kids!
- NEW HOLIDAY TRADITIONS. There are some things that you never want to let go of. But with new kids, a new state, and new life in general, now is the perfect time to implement fun, original ideas! And the best part is having these new holiday traditions grow with our family. We get to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what needs some tweaking along the way!