Holiday Traditions

The holiday season is often referred to as the Trifecta. How possible is it to really succeed a win when contending with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year? Add a sprinkle of Kwanza and Chanukah and we have the perfect storm for expectations. Last week I had composed a wonderful tale of my woes that have to do with holiday traditions and expectations. In a couple of days, we’ll be ringing in the New Year, so I thought I really should post it. It was a personal post, and those aren’t my favorite kind. I couldn’t find the post on my pc when I finally decided to post it.

I’d written about my mother’s yearly traditions, my father’s barely cooperating with them, and my own struggles with coming up with my own traditions. The whole thing started at the job holiday party when one of the psychiatrists asked the rest of us what were our holiday traditions. He said he had to create his own when he arrived here from another country and decided to dive into the holidays. I had a few they were all bound up with family. The constellation, therefore my traditions, has changed.

One of my mother’s New Year traditions was to make certain our nuclear family was together at the strike of midnight. That meant we’d have good luck and we’d all be together throughout the coming year. My father didn’t feel strongly about it. He’d pick up sometime between Christmas and the New Year and take a trip to Puerto Rico to visit family. Spontaneous. Seriously- no preplanning. Unless of course he’d been planning it along. Invariably, he’d stroll in two minutes before midnight and we’d all live happily ever after. Us girls would be tucked into bed wearing new yellow pajamas after we toasted with a thimbleful of anisette. Life changed of course, but the expectation remained that I’d toast in the New Year with my mother yearly. This tradition was non-wavering until the year I called her to plan our arrival. No, she said, this year she was going to sleep. She didn’t want to stay up late. What! I was dumbfounded. What about all those years I made sure my plans didn’t ruin our family plans. What about our family luck?

That psychiatrist was clever, wasn’t he? He had turned our traditional holiday gathering into a group process. At least it did for me. No one else seemed the least bit disturbed. I brought the topic up the next day at a second holiday party. The one similarity I noticed was that mothers really had a say in how the family traditions were planned. One person spoke about their father and how his birthday was on Christmas. The family celebrated his birthday first at midnight on Christmas, and then Christmas was celebrated after they cut his cake.

I’ve had traditions, but they’ve changed so much over the years that my spouse and I have decided to create new traditions. Ones that we can still celebrate whether we have other folks visiting or not. I missed my mother so much this Christmas that I decided to make a tasty bread pudding that was one of her traditions. My spouse made a wonderful flan that was one of her mother’s traditions. Our mothers may no longer be here, but they left us with traditions that we can keep and make our own. For the New Year we are thinking of going out to dinner. Just the two of us. It’ll be a time to reflect as a couple on the old and the new that will be coming into our lives.

I wish you some of the old and some of the new as we enter the New Year. There are blessings in each.

Happy New Year




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