As you grow older, the holiday season may bring along change; change in scenery, change in location and inevitably, change in family dynamic.
Even while families prefer to keep it traditional, it’s virtually impossible to mirror holiday celebrations year after year. As the children grow their lives flourish. So do yours. It’s important that as you grow, you adapt to the holiday season by creating or adjusting to new traditions.
We have all felt the shift from what was once expected during the holiday season to what then becomes the new norm. It was likely an uneasy transition, as a young child, to experience that difference. Perhaps the decorations changed. Perhaps a family member had recently passed away. Or maybe the eldest sibling was no longer with the family and could not come home due to other adult obligations. Whatever the reason, things change. People change. And the holiday get together, inevitably, is forced to change.
If you were an individual who didn’t feel that change progress slowly, naturally per se, this could feel more of a shock to your emotional system. Your family’s holiday may have suddenly felt empty, even despondent. A void opened up in your heart, knowing that the holiday season would never feel the same again.
Maybe the change had been anticipated. A move away to college and that full-time job you had to take in order to pay rent was the reason for the inability to return home for the holidays. As difficult as it might have been, it offered you a fair amount of time to mentally prepare and to schedule your family time wisely. This could have been hard, but at least you were ‘prepared’ for it. You had time to inform your family and friends before the holiday season approached.
This is not to say holding on to certain traditions is unmanageable. This is to point out that even specific traditions will likely need to adapt to a new environment, perhaps with new people and potentially a different date. There is comfort in the predictable. There is comfort in expected tradition, whether a song, an embellishment on your holiday sweater or family-favourite desert. These traditions may just be enjoyed elsewhere, in the differentiating future, and that’s ok.
Regardless of your own individual experience, we try to make the holiday season the most for our children. No matter your religious upbringing and/or cultural celebrations, many individuals take the time off during the holiday season simply to have valuable time with family. Because that’s what the holidays are about: Family.
We all do our best to salvage the spirit and instill the excitement that leads up to our festivities. We understand that in time this will change, but in the moment and in early years of their life the children’s joy is all that matters.
With each advancing year, your children will encounter these life changes. From relocating because of a parent’s job or to the birth of a new sibling, a family’s dynamic will ultimately change. All we must learn is how to adapt in order to make the best of the experience.
As the child grows older, they may be able to rationalize how they feel about holiday alterations. They may see their family’s dynamic changing organically. Perhaps their parents separate, perhaps their parents re-marry. Perhaps they too will meet someone special they would like to spend time with during the holiday season. And what a beautiful opportunity to combine these families. Start new traditions. Their traditions. For theirs may be just as joyous and important as yours.
The key is to allow the child to get comfortable in their holidays, but leave conversations open for potential, annual changes. Whether this means inviting your cousin Tony who you’ve not seen since second-grade or accepting an invitation to an extended family member’s home to be surrounded by loved ones, it’s imperative that holiday traditions do not feel constricted and obligatory. It’s critical to let the child understand flexibility while keeping the festivities a joyous occasion.
By keeping an open mind towards traditional changes in your family, your children will likely reminisce considering how gracious, courteous and generous you were while they were growing up; considering these compromises were likely for their overall enjoyment.
Sometimes, we simply need to welcome new experiences no matter what we’re used to. It’s important to welcome new holiday traditions as the years go on, despite your family’s dynamic, no matter which journey these lives take.
Location Rowena’s Inn
Photographed by Jayme Lang