Traditions: When is it Time to Change?

I’ve been reading articles and stories about how other women minimize the stress of the holidays. Even television shows hit on this, sharing simple timesaving tips and ideas. Wrapped up in all of the hub-bub of the holidays, yet trying to keep things simple, I’ve find one hitch as to why we women get hung up: Too much tradition.

Tradition is a beautiful thing if it doesn’t overwhelm you. But with traditions come a lot of expectations. And with failed expectations come a lot of stress and guilt.

Whenever you feel the “We have to do it this way because we always have” syndrome, stop and re-evaluate and ask yourself this question: “When is it okay for me to change the course of this tradition, or even stop it?”

The last 3 years for Thanksgiving we went away and enjoyed a quiet, intimate Thanksgiving with just our family. It was relaxing and rejuvenating.

This year, with our son home for the holiday, we chose to stay home and invite others in. It was one of our best Thanksgivings ever, I must say.

One thing I’ve learned is that I don’t want to be rigid and make my family suffer during the holidays for traditions that are only important to me but not really valued by them.

I came up with these simple guidelines that work for our family:

1. Think of a new “twist” that you can put on your tradition.

2. If the old way is not working, but it’s important to you to not lose it, be open to change!

3. Be flexible and even ask your family for their ideas.

As your kids grow and change, so will the needs of the family.
When I found a great deal on a “fake” Christmas tree, I made sure the whole family was okay with the notion of giving up our traditional “going to the lot in the rain” experience, and dragging a soggy tree into the house. We all agreed it was a “go” as long as the tree looked real!

How does the tradition affect my whole family?
I’ve always loved to Christmas carol, but with the ages of my kids right now, they do not value it as I do. We’ve always tried to cram it in, a few days before Christmas, when everyone is stressed and tired. I’ve given up on that tradition, at least for now. We can always resume in the future if we want to.

“We have to do it because it’s what I did as a kid!”
I’ve told my kids that over and over when it comes to making rolled-out frosted cookies. But come to find out, those sugary cookies make my family feel sick! The last 2 years I did very little holiday baking. It was good to let the “idea” of “having to do it” go, and actually live a little healthier! We did make our yummy Toffee Candy though.

How can you simplify the tradition?
Do you feel like you have to do it all by yourself? Ask the family for help, change it up and have your guests bring half of the meal. Let your friends or family help you out in the kitchen. Simplify the process of cooking, entertaining, gift-wrapping, decorating … you name it!

Be open to changing your tradition of giving at Christmas time.
We all know that giving is more important than receiving. Getting our minds off of ourselves is the key. Every year is different with our finances and what we can give, but our family still talks about the one year we decided to anonymously bless a needy family instead of giving to an organization. The father of this family was blind, so that was very impacting to our children at the time.

The gift of time is also precious!
One year we delivered gifts to “Project Angel Tree” families. We have to be open to where the Spirit leads us and open to new ideas.

Should traditions be a burden or a pure joy? Is it something we have to do, or want to do? Is it something that adds to our faith and family life or destracts from it? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate. I’m open to change this year. How about you?

What traditions are weighing you down, or stealing your joy? And are you flexible when it comes to change?

(Photos from last week on Thanksgiving Day.)

44 comments on “Traditions: When is it Time to Change?”

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  4. Sandy, I’m writing a post for A Biblical Marriage about unrealistic expectations and (wonder of wonders) I remembered this post! I’ve mentioned it and linked to it. It’s too good not to share! Thanks once more for your wonderful work!

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  6. This is such a timely post, as we’re dealing with these issues in my husband’s family at the moment. Glad to know we’re not the only ones!

  7. OH… PLEASE someone tell my MIL that it is TIME to CHANGE. I’ve been dating/married to my hubby for 11 years now and for 11 years Christmas has been either at her house or my SILs (she is closer to some grands). I casually asked a vague question about my hosting the event next year only to be informed that she is really wanting to host it at her house again. I have a 2 year old and a hubby who has very little time off. I am about ready to scream.

    There are always “reasons” why it has to be at the SIL or MIL house – old people who can’t travel far, sick people… According to hubby, she’s always hosted and everyone has always come to her. He is as frustrated as I am and so is planning on talking to his dad and BIL about a revolt – with a compromise of rotating hosting duties. Really, I’d love to have it for a few years while my kid is still little. I want to be able to cook MY type of food and not the heavy meat and dairy glop that they always make. (We eat mainly veggies/whole grain type diet.)

    We did realize that this is going to be a long fight and so this year, did our thing on Solstice, with a campfire in our (large) yard and Santa coming that evening. It was wonderful and all but…. Hubby said that if they don’t agree to a compromise that we’ll just stop going. I like his family but his mom is just nuts about this holiday… (oh, and they/we are all non-religious… making it sort of ironic)

    I guess that having just returned from all of the “fun” I’m a bit stressed out still…. Just a thought to all of you other mothers of adult kids – it’s their turn! Let them make their own traditions and you go along for the ride.

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  9. We gave up trooping around in the cold mud to find a tree as well. Happily, we drove down to our local Home Depot and came home with a NICER (and CHEAPER) tree! The boys were allowed to pick it out – they, of course, picked the first one they saw. Men! They are all the same…no matter their age!

    We are still building traditions in our family – my husband came from such an unstructured and fractured home that he didn’t really grow up with many. I had too many – we’re working on developing what works for us and our boys!

    My biggest burden? Too many decorations. I work like a slave to get them all up immediately after TG so “I can enjoy them” but the process, this year, was not so enjoyable.

  10. Wow, someone needs to send this to my mother in law. SHE is the one that thinks that because she had certain traditions with her kids, that her son is REQUIRED to keep them now that he is married with kids of his own because otherwise he’s “not honoring” her.

    She does Christmas stockings. We ditched Christmas stockings after the first year because we c couldn’t afford it and didn’t want a collection of junk to have more stuff filling the house in an effort to “fill” someones stocking. But that offends her. Her house is also full of junk nobody uses, which is against our philosophy of living.

    She might be even more offended next year…we may not be celebrating Christmas at all next year.

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