Our lives are ever evolving and these traditions we love begin to take a different form. As I watch friends enjoying family traditions I begin to ponder about the traditions my family has, only to realize we are in one of those evolving stages.
I grew up with traditions of Christmas caroling with multiple families, neighbors participating in a progressive dinner party around the block and all the kids would be held up in a basement doing who knows what. Traditions spent with cousins on Christmas Eve where the story of Jesus was read among the opening of gifts. All of these traditions marked my youth and are filled with good memories. However, those traditions no longer take place, but hold a spot in my heart and set a precedence for Holidays to come.
A few years ago we entered the holiday season weary from grief. It had been a hard few months and the first round holidays just seem to hang over our heads looming with impending doom. Would we be miserable? How bad would the pain be? Would I be angry or sad? Would I have any holiday spirit at all? I honestly don’t recall the holidays of 2014, but we managed to survive.
Like all the other hard days, we made it through. We were able to enjoy those days and what they brought. We kept ourselves just busy enough to not focus on my Dad not being there. Our family shape has changed for various reasons and our Christmas Eve gathering with cousins was small with my Mom being the only “adult” despite the grown kids who now fill the room. The emotions that came with reality of what is, were weird and I don’t quite know how to describe the feelings.
It just was and we just were.
We started a new Christmas day tradition in visiting my mom’s family whom we spend thanksgiving with. A welcomed change and safe place to get through this first Christmas. They understood our feelings but didn’t draw attention to our grief.
This year, we are all rebuilding our lives in many ways. Cancer and grief were the norm those past few years and this year we’ve been putting the pieces back together. We have some old pieces to the puzzle and some new ones too. Finding new traditions and trying things we’ve always wanted to do during the holidays. We even discussed a holiday at the beach.
While my current list of holiday traditions is being revamped as we rebuild, my holidays are filled with love and that’s the best tradition of them all.