Traditions are a staple practice in nearly every culture across the globe; they are the one thing that connects even the most diverse people to one another. It’s beautiful how each tradition is unique to each family, nation, and culture. And although they are all very different, traditions are able to generate the same outcome for everyone: comfort and joy.
My family is very sentimental; so much so, that traditions are pinnacle to every holiday, birthday, and any other one of the various celebrations we practice annually. That is, until we lost my father last year. He passed away on October 11th. His passing not only affected every single celebration we cherished, but it created a new one… the first “anniversary” or annual event that evoked dread and sorrow. With that in mind, we decided to abandon most of our traditions for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and especially Christmas last year. It was too painful to continue our traditions without the patriarch of our small family – so we went on a cruise instead. This in no way prevented us from mourning his absence during the most wonderful time of the year, but it did help distract us for the week. This year was going to be painful as well, but in a very different way. One of the most challenging obstacles for newlyweds, I’ve found, is splitting the holidays between two families. It is stressful and frustrating. Not only are you trying to create your own traditions, as you start your own family, but you have to try to balance and maintain the traditions of two very different families at the same time! I already had enough anxiety thinking about whether or not my family would continue the traditions we so cleverly avoided last year, but trying to juggle three sets of traditions nearly sent me into a mental breakdown! I tried to be understanding of the fact that no one was really prepared to face the music: our parents still saw us as their babies! It was immediately clear to me that neither of us wanted to let our families down and this created a great deal of tension between me and my husband.
Kaleb and I had to endure a few arguments before coming to a compromise. Not everyone was willing to accept that traditions were going to change, but I can understand why – I wanted to be selfish for my family many times! But, at the end of the day, it was a learning experience that not many newlyweds can avoid. We made it work and we all had a wonderful Christmas. We even managed to create our own quirky tradition! Last year, I bought Kaleb a Star Wars onesie for his birthday and he loved it! He loved it to so much that he wanted to wear it to his family’s annual Christmas celebration in the Smokies. Oddly enough, on our way to the cabin, we stopped at a Wal-Mart where Kaleb saw a Christmas onesie for women. His excitement at the idea of us BOTH showing up in onesies was contagious. He snagged the onesie, equipped with a “Sweet Cheeks” butt flap, and ran to checkout. Who was I to stop him? I had no idea this would become our first tradition. Everyone at the cabin loved our onesies so we wore them every night! I had no plans of expanding our onesie collection this year, but yet again, my hand was forced.
In early November of this year, I was out finishing up my Christmas shopping with my mother when I came across the most glorious onesies I had ever laid eyes on. Just inside the doors of Burlington Coat Factory was a wrack of Christmas onesies – that’s why I saw our two favorite Christmas characters right beside each other: Buddy the Elf and the Abominable snowman. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to trends, but I could not pass these up! I quickly grabbed our sizes and ran to the register before I could talk myself out of it. I surprised Kaleb with them that night and we were both giddy at the thought of showing up to our parents’ houses on Christmas day in these onesies! Something so simple made it a little less painful for me to face my family’s traditions; I finally had one of my own to cherish, and it became something too special for me to invite others to join. I realize that this is selfish of me, but I’m slowly learning that I can’t always put others before myself (this is something I really struggle with).
My newest tradition got even more exciting when I found a onesie for our dog, Tully! That’s right – ALL THREE MEMBERS OF OUR WEIRD LITTLE FAMILY HAD CHRISTMAS ONESIES. Honestly, I can’t remember the last I experienced such beautiful bliss.
So, our tradition is a littler strange, but I don’t care! I can only imagine what we’ll find next year! But as Christmas day came and past, we both realized something very important – the tradition that truly mattered was acknowledging the birth of Christ. As important as traditions are, we realized that Christmas isn’t just about family traditions or gifts. It’s so easy to be consumed by all the chaos in our lives and forget about what truly matters. So, as the holidays come to an end, I reflect on all the sadness, drama, excitement, and joy – I am so grateful for all that God has blessed me with. I turn my attention to his Word so that I may live each day for Him and be a witness and testament to His love and mercy.