Traditions

Jessie: In New Hampshire where it looks like it will be a white Christmas!

While I know this year has been strange and different on so many levels for almost everyone, one of the things that has been on my mind most has been traditions surrounding the holidays. For my family, the pandemic isn’t the only thing that is influencing everything. My kids are older. In fact, in a pandemic sort of wayt, we are kind on empty nesters. My youngest started college this fall and despite unexpected returns home by adult kids, we are living a bit differently in the day-to-day.

But we are also facing changes in traditons. The kids aren’t as interested in decorating or cookie baking. No one is excited to make ginngerbread houses. There are fewer gifts since the things they want are more expensive.

Which feels a bit empty and even a little sad. It also provides an opportunity to build new traditions. Except, I have no idea what they ought to be. We will decorate our tree this weekend as we always do witheggnog and appetizers and homemade cookies. I’ll whip up a batch of buckeyes. But what else do people do? Do they play week-long games of Monopoly? Try snow-shoeing as a family? Build bonfires in the yard?

I am open to suggestion from all of you!

So readers, what do you have for traditions with your loved ones that work well for people of all ages?

29 Thoughts

  1. Jessie, this may not appeal to your family, but in our family we have a tradition of doing scavenger hunts for presents that started with my MIL 40+ years ago. She wrote out (you will shine at this) a “poem” that had us scrambling from room to room trying to figure out where our presents could be. There were clues leading us from one location to another as the “poem” unfolded. Even the adults thought it was fun with lots of laughter at some of the verses that related personally to each one of us and also fun times we had in the past year as a family. We also play board games and cards (Hearts, anyone?). Now this year we are going to have to do a scavenger hunt with our Grands by Skype. Not sure how it will turn out, but we plan to include some riddles and jokes…so there will be laughter! 😉

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  2. I send you HUGS, as I am in the same boat. The grandson who is about to be 18 and was with me most of his life until a couple of years ago, is not here. He spent 8 months with me, and then left to be with my son, his wife and his baby brother in NV. The teen granddaughters live closer, but no one comes to bake cookies or do gingerbread,(graham cracker) houses anymore, either; they will come on Christmas Day.
    The friends who used to join in and even come from out of town will not be here. I always have made a feast and baked up a storm, but alas, there will be far less made. I’m sending some to NV.
    But thank Heaven for great communications! If I hear a video call coming, I know it is my daughter-in-law and the 11-month-old grandson calling. I text with his brother daily, (even if I don’t get much out of him!) We’ll have them all on video call and the other son and granddaughter on the day, so we have that.
    The Husband and I will be watching movies and even a couple of old Wiggles DVDs that have a few special moments we watched with the kids when they were little.
    I decorated, but did not want to put up our little tree. Someone greatly encouraged me and it felt so much better.
    I say, Go for it…go for ANYTHING. Life has changed, but we must find joy where we can, and it’s there to find.

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  3. I WON’T be volunteering at the Feast of Love, as they are doing boxed dinners this time around due to COVID, and I’m not even certain the BBC’s Festival of Lessons and Carols from King’s College will be live.

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  4. Nevertheless, I persisted. When we went through the empty nest phase I kept making cookies and mailing them to college dorms and New York City apartments. The kids were gone and I was just here, quietly making cookies. Now, it’s a tradition the kids treasure and want to share with their own kids, so I’m glad I persisted.

    One thing we do is “adult stockings.” These are filled with small things. In normal years, souvenirs from travels, jams and jellies, kitchen gadgets, etc. All the adults contribute to everyone else’s. My mother started this and we have carried it on.

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  5. We still read The Night Before Christmas to our 50-year old daughter wherever she is. This year it will have to be via Zoom. We will open presents via Zoom the next day. We will hang the pink pig (story told here last year) with her watching instead of her hanging it. I don’t know how to share the pumpkin pancakes we traditionally have on Christmas morning. There have occasionally been years when she wasn’t able to be home for Christmas, but we always find a way to celebrate. And this year we know she will be coming to live near us in April, so we have that to look forward to.

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  6. I’ve lived alone as an adult, so I’m not sure I’m much help. One of my traditions is watch favorite Christmas movies while wrapping presents. But that’s a solo thing, at least for me.

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  7. This year, we have decided to hope for Christmas in July (2021). We plan to recreate our whole Christmas menu then for the family. In the meantime, we are just happy that our extended families are all healthy and staying home. We will zoom on Christmas Day with both our UK family and our US family.

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  8. A few years ago, The Girl (now 20) remarked that Christmas felt less “magical” than when she was a kid. Probably because she lost interest in doing all the things that made it magical as she got older. As someone else mentioned, presents got fewer because they got more expensive – and now both kids just want money.

    But we still watch “Love, Actually” and we’ve started mining Christmas movies. New ones, old ones, doesn’t matter. And we still bake cookies (although for the sake of our health, we’re cutting back on the amounts this year since there are fewer people around).

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  9. This is so poignant. My husband and I have watched It’s A Wonderful Life every year that we have been together on Christmas Eve. It was one of the first DVDs we located this year after our move and we’ll be watching as Santa flies overhead this year.

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    1. How charming! We had a cd we used to play each year whilst decorating the tree but it has up and vanished and we have not moved! One of my sons looks for it every year but we cannot find it anywhere in the house! We never remember to try to locate a replacement until the night of the tree trimming. Maybe your comment will help me to get to it in time!

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  10. Years ago I started a tradition of hanging specific ornaments on the tree that I could put some kind of candy into, like a small hand knit stocking that holds a pack of gum or a crocheted basket that I can put a wrapped truffle in! They couldn’t touch the candy ornaments until Christmas morning but could scout out where they were and if they liked the candy that could be seen, although some of them were completely enclosed and not on view like the Scooby -Doo miniature lunch box! As the kids got into their 20’s , we substituted a twenty dollar bill in one of the ornaments ( I have 2 kids). A few years ago I thought it was getting a bit tedious to them so one year I stopped and it was the first thing I heard complaints about when the tree went up. So now the “kids” are 30 and 33, its evolved into still putting out the candy ornaments with their favorites or something new but there’s more moula $$!

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  11. Whether for the good or bad, I really don’t have any traditions anymore.

    The extended family Xmas Eve gathering ended a few years ago (the same year my mom died). It’s just me now and though I still have gifts to give, I mostly take care of that BEFORE the actual day.

    I don’t decorate for the holiday either so there’s nothing for me on that front.

    I was going to a family friend’s home for dessert on Xmas Day the last few years but the pandemic wiped that out.

    My friend Ann and I had started trying to go to a movie on Xmas Day but that isn’t happening either.

    For me, Xmas Day will be kind of just another day. But I’m not really all that saddened by that fact either.

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    1. Changes in family, location, and routines are a big part of the reasons for most shifts in tradition, I think. I am glad to hear that you are finding the changes easy to adapt to and not a cause of pain!

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  12. We never had children. My Mom is 82 years old. We moved in with her so she could stay in her home that she has lived in for 55 years. We bake as a family due to all of us being disabled. We work on Christmas cards as a family. I read out loud to the family. We listen to music. It is not an easy transition to make new traditions and memories. Anything you do will stay in their minds and hearts.

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