Traditions are great. We have some of our own and my extended family has some that we adhere to. And – until recently – I thought that changing traditions was sacrilege.
My journey has taught me something about this. Not all are so important and changing them doesn’t change the meaning of anything.
Sometimes it’s just time to change.
The change can be inspired by changes in lifestyle, changes in needs or just boredom. The important thing isn’t the tradition, it’s the engagement of those participating.
Sometimes we think actions and activities are traditions because they represent the way we’ve always done things. Well, that just isn’t so.
For years (and I mean lots  of years) our family has arisen early on Christmas morning, opened up stocking gifts and then those under the tree while watching the clock because my sister and brother-in-law had to be at his parent’s house for their traditional family breakfast.
His parents have now passed and siblings have their own family routines. But we continued in our same routine. But why?
We also realized that, as we’ve gotten older and need fewer “things,” the excitement of a Christmas stocking has dwindled and it’s a little overwhelming for our own aging parents. In general, my family doesn’t like to buy useless gifts. We have suggestions at gift time or take each other shopping. So stockings have become the list of things we need and use. To help my mom out, I had even started doing the stocking shopping for her for me and Dennis. So we obviously knew what we’d find in our stockings every year.
Breakfast has always been quiche and fresh fruit. But this just isn’t so simple and causes my mom a bit of preparation that just doesn’t seem necessary – especially since she’s aging and doesn’t need another stresser on Christmas morning. After all, the “tradition” that actually does mean something to us (cooking shrimp and grits together for family dinner) DOES mean something to us and we’d rather focus energy on that.
Somehow this year it became really clear. So we’re changing things up. We’re eliminating some things (filling stockings) and turning the responsibility for breakfast over to the men – especially since my sister and brother-in-law don’t leave for another family celebration and can be there for our family breakfast.
My mom has less on her and can actually maybe relax a little and enjoy her Christmas morning and the gifts that she opens and gives. Instead of bringing a kitchen timer into the living room with her so she can jump up to manage breakfast prep.
It’s silly that we considered these routines to be so necessary. The important part of it is being together and being engaged in what we’re doing.
Family times shouldn’t become ones where people sit with heads in books or in devices waiting on the same old process to take place…especially at Christmas time. We don’t know how many more years we have to spend this celebration together and it should be a special time that we share the excitement of giving that Jesus’ birth symbolizes.