Those are two words that don’t often go together. Traditions are precious and family members often work hard to protect their tightly held rituals.
In the weeks before Christmas, our family decorates the tree and the house together. We make cut out cookies and decorate them together. On Christmas Even we attend church together and follow that with dinner out at a local restaurant. Christmas morning we put cinnamon rolls in the oven just as we start opening presents and they are piping hot and ready to eat as we finish up unwrapping presents.
These are the traditions we’ve done for over 28 years as we raised our family. They are precious traditions to my husband and I as well as our kids.
But things are changing as some of our kids now have families of their own and need to start their own traditions. That means Christmas and change need to happen in the same sentence.
My parents experienced this 28 years ago when Mark and I announced that we wanted to be home on Christmas morning so our own daughter could wake up in her own bed and enjoy the wonder of discovering a filled stocking and presents that appeared overnight under the tree. My parents accepted that change with courage and never made us feel guilty for messing with long-standing holiday traditions. It was a gift they gave us then and it is a gift we can now pass on to our own children who now want their young families to experience Christmas morning in their own homes.
Change is never easy. As a friend of mine often says, “You can’t get to where you need to go without leaving where you are.” It’s that leaving part that’s hard. There’s a grieving that comes with letting go of what is familiar and precious to us. Yet it’s in the letting go that we also open ourselves to new horizons.
This year we won’t have all our family members around the tree on Christmas morning. However, in letting go of that tradition and being flexible, we are exchanging it for the experience of watching our grandchildren experience the wonder of Christmas a day before. This is our new normal.
I suppose this flexibility thing started over 2000 years ago when a little baby was born in a humble stable. I would imagine that delivering a baby in a barn isn’t how Mary or Joseph envisioned their baby coming into this world. I guess you could say that they set the stage for Christmas and change.
So if it worked for them I think it can work for us too.
How about you? How have you learned to be flexible with your Christmas expectations?