Why it’s okay not to have Christmas Traditions

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I love this time of year. I love the decorations and the lights…mostly because I’m not the designated light putter upper in our family. I love the way our street comes alive with twinkly colors at dusk, accompanied by inflatable snowmen and giant nativity scenes. I love the yards with the baby Jesus nestled right next to the penguin wearing a scarf because it makes me laugh. I love taking out my Christmas ornaments and remembering the stories behind where some of them came from.

I love all the Christmas goodies that people make this time of year…although the pinch in the waistband of my jeans will tell you those goodies do not love me back. I love Christmas movies, Christmas songs and everything that goes with the season…except the extreme commercialism and how crabby and impatient people are when they go to the grocery store during the month of December.

I love hearing about other families’ Christmas traditions. And I realize we don’t really have any of our own. I mean, unless you count the Sam, our elf on the shelf, we haven’t really established family traditions. I keep thinking we probably should but every year kind of brings something different.

When my husband and I first got together, my daughter was mostly out of the house…and then she was completely out of the house. We spent Christmases where it was just the two of us and then we had the whirlwind of change…from 2012 through 2014. It seemed like something different was happening every year…probably because something different was happening every year.

Why it's okay not to have Christmas traditions|Ripped Jeans and Bifocals

We moved overseas for work. We were empty nesters. We made friends and we spent the holidays with other people who were away from home, dabbling in the traditions of our adopted country.

We adopted two boys, one in 2012 and another in 2013. My daughter came back to live with us for a while somewhere in the middle of all that. We celebrated Christmas 2011 as a couple with no kids in the house…I think we stayed up late drinking wine and slept in. In 2013, we were a family of five, and we stayed up late putting together stuff made by Melissa and Doug. And when I say we, I mean my husband. By then, sleeping late was a dim memory.

Moving back to Texas last year brought some familiarity for me, but not for my husband. He’s still baffled by why we eat tamales at Christmastime and isn’t over the “weirdness” of sometimes 70 degree temperatures in December.

Every year has been a different Christmas celebrated in different places or with different faces. We haven’t really set any traditions, unless you count Sam…and maybe “reindeer dust” which I’d never heard of until one of my friends I met while living in England told me about it. She brought me a whole box of glitter in 2012 and I still have enough to make this year’s batch of reindeer dust. I don’t use it that much…because glitter.

While we were moving around and our family was in a state of flux, I didn’t think about traditions. We just lived in the moment and rolled with whatever life was throwing at us that particular year. Now that we’ve put down some roots (and least we’re trying to…I won’t tell you how many unpacked boxes still live in our garage) I feel pressure to start some family traditions.

But why? That pressure is purely self-imposed. No one is suggesting our family fun level is somehow lacking because we don’t have traditions. My kids certainly aren’t complaining about the way we do things around here. December is all about shiny lights, going to see Santa, searching for the elf’s new hiding place every day and lots of sugar…culminating with presents.

I think I’m okay with the “fly by the seat of your pants” approach the holidays. At least I am for now. It puts less pressure on me to crowd my to-do list with things I don’t have time for because we’ve “always” done them. It allows us to shake things up and try new things from year to year if we want to. And to dump them the next year if we’re not feeling it or if something better or different comes along.

Because we don’t have many “we always” moments yet.

If someone asks me what our Christmas traditions are, I can’t tell them that we always get new jammies on Christmas Eve after we get home from church. I can’t tell them that we always go see the lights in such and such neighborhood or that we always put our tree up on Thanksgiving weekend.

Every Christmas has been different but every Christmas has been good. Maybe we’ll pick up traditions as we go…maybe we won’t.

There is so much pressure on moms to be and do all the things. I’m letting go of the notion that every family must have a Christmas tradition for now.  We have Christmas together and I think that’s enough. Maybe I’ll come back and read this years from now and realize this is the year we started a tradition…or maybe I’ll smile because I’ll realize we’re in exactly the same place, with no always’.

I’ll be okay with either.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers, most especially to the people who have linked up with #AdoptionTalk in 2015. Do you have a Christmas or holiday tradition? I would love to hear about it.

Why it's okay not to have Christmas traditions|Ripped Jeans and Bifocals

If you missed the last #AdoptionTalk post you can read it here.

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3 Comments

  1. I love your perspective on traditions and the fact that you can celebrate all the different ways you have celebrated in different countries and cultures! Often traditions can get us bogged down so I can definitely see how this would be freeing. Thanks for sharing and I hope you guys have a wonderful “tradition-less” holiday season! 😉 Warmly, Lori from The Novel Endeavor

  2. I am thankful for a blog that doesn’t make me feel bad when I (fill in the blank). In a world of social media and weird little elves on the shelf, I am perfectly content to be with my healthy, happy family and hear the laughter of the children on Christmas…even if we don’t have traditions.

  3. I love this because we are the same way for the most part! The only thing we have done repetitively is pick out a tree and decorate it. Some years we go here, some years we go there, last year we stayed home. Sometimes we put up lights, sometimes we don’t get to it. I think all of that is okay. I figure my kids will look back and say “remember the year we did….” rather than “remember how we always did….” and that’s okay. It will still be happy memories 🙂

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