Friday, December 06, 2013

December Daily #5 ~ Unusual Traditions

the topic for today is unusual traditions your family has. This was a hard one for me and I will tell you why.

When the kids were little, I would whip myself, and them usually, into a frenzy trying to make sure that I included every holiday tradition that I thought they might want. I was worried that I would leave some important tradition out and that when they were older, they would lament with their friends that their childhood had been lacking since they had not had that one tradition that everyone else seemed to cherish so. The end result of that kind of thinking was a frantic pace. Instead of enjoying the season and being in the moment, I would begin to plan the next special moment even as I should have been focusing on the one that we were in. It left me feeling like I was lacking as a mother. We'd go to playgroup and I would listen to the stories of the perfectly executed home decorations and displays. I would hear about the wonderful outings, the new Christmas pajamas, the family portrait in a snow covered field, etc. Those stories were both inspiring and humbling at the same time.

When my mother-in-law was still with us she would make sure to take us all to a Christmas show every year. Many years we would go to the Denver Center for Performing Arts presentation of "A Christmas Carol." Other years we would take in a Christmas concert over at the Buell Theater. I think the best year was the concert where the Colorado Children's Coral joined in with the Denver Symphony Orchestra. We even went to "The Nutcracker" one or two times.

My own mother has traditions that we keep as well. Every year she hosts an open house on Christmas eve. Everyone is invited. I always loved the feeling of being so welcoming and having people join us. My mother would have a fire going in the fire place and a nice spread of food that would have a theme each year. It would happen in the early evening and end just in time to make it to the Christmas service at our church which was just five minutes away. When I think about my mother, I think about how welcoming, loving and fun she is. I think that is how others see her, too.

Another tradition of my mother's traditions has gone away, sort of. Early in our married life, my mother purchase a German Christmas Pyramid (we called it a glockenspiel.) (It was similar to the one above.) My mother loved it. At the time we were young and thought that the glockenspiel was sort of tacky. We all laughed. She laughed, too. She replied, "watch out where you laugh, it may become yours some day." The next year it was re-gifted. This happened for many years. Most of the time the person who held the glockenspiel that year would add something to it. We would continue to tease my mother about the tackiness of the decoration. It had meant to be in all good fun, but somewhere along the line someone decided to end that tradition and has not re-gifted it in years. I worry that somewhere in that fun, the teasing became hurtful to my mother. I asked her about it the other day and her answer was vague. She sidestepped the question about whether it bothered her or not and simply replied that someone still has it, but that it is not to be known. I hope that it reappears. I'd like to see it again. I don't think of it as being so tacky anymore and I would like to know that it was all in good fun and had not hurt my mother's feelings.

Then one year I got really sick, too sick to do much of anything other than exist and make sure the family was limping along. We stayed home,we did very few things. And that year was one of the better ones. I came to see that the kids were not missing out on so much, really and they were so much more relaxed. I came to realize that they took on my own stress and their sensory input was on overload. It was then and there that I decided I needed to worry a lot less about "keeping up with the Jones." Each year I still have my own struggles with wanting to "keep up with the Jones." I don't know why that it, but I work hard to keep it in check.

Now that my kids are older, they are able to lead most of that kind of activities we take part in and I worry about it a lot less. We still have traditions, like watching the holiday movies and having a nice family dinner,but the rest is up for consideration.

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