With regard to the holidays and traditions – I consider myself VERY lucky. Not sure if it because my parents are divorced, or because my husband and I come from different faiths, or if it is because both of us have relatively “chill” families but when it comes to our holiday plans, no two years are alike, ever. Granted that might sound a little sad, or stress some people out, but I LOVE it. We are always with family come Christmas morning, but it might be mine, it might be his, and we might be in New York, or in Maine, or in Massachusetts.
One year in college I was not in the mood to cook a Thanksgiving turkey; I did some sort of ambitious pork roast in its place, and decided pie was soooo 2003 or whatever, and served pumpkin mouse with pumpkin-seed brittle for dessert. Instead of complaining or making passive aggressive remarks regarding the non-traditional menu, my extended family members all asked, “How can I help?” and ‘What can I bring?”. Meanwhile, my Mémère (what us French- Canadians call our Grandmas) handed me $100 towards groceries. Back in our early twenties, my three adult siblings and I all stayed in my one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment during the week leading up to Christmas one year, making homemade pizza, drinking wine, and laughing late into the night. The four of us crammed into my little Honda and headed north to our Mom’s come Christmas Day. This year my sister is packing up her family and heading south to catch some sun in Florida. We will celebrate New Year’s together in Maine. Specifics TBD.
Please don’t be sad for me or think my family is totally unsentimental – some traditions hold-fast, like fresh oranges and hazelnuts in the shell in our stockings come Christmas morning or taking a sibling stroll to stretch our legs and (full disclosure) hide from our relatives for a few after we eat our turkey (or hunk of meat of my choosing (one year it was lentil loaf ;-P)).
Families change and evolve and it is okay if traditions do too; it is 100% possible to honor history without letting the past dictate the day. While food traditions might seem important, Christmas will still happen whether or not there is a turkey or fruitcake (or in our case, ribbon candy). And if it truly is missed? Bring the fruitcake back the following year.
I think my point is this – if you feel stuck in a stress-filled holiday rut, speak up, you might not be alone. Friends and family may be thrilled to receive an email a few months out, suggesting some changes to the usual plan. Start the conversation in advance, seek ideas from all involved, make room for a little old and a little new, and mind the meaning of the day, celebrating all that is good, giving thanks, and spending time with those whom you hold nearest and dearest.
Tell us - how do your holidays change and how do they stay the same?