I have extremely good memories of Christmas from my childhood. Forever locked in my mind’s eye are spending time at each set of grandparents’ house, exchanging gifts with the extended family, listening to my Aunt Nonie read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, seeing the Chrismon tree at the front of the church, and the Christmas morning excitement when my sister and I would find all kinds of things Santa generously left for us.
I don’t remember a time in childhood when those things did not happen. They were ingrained traditions.
Fast forward to the time when I was out of college, newly married, and raising two young boys with my wife, Linda. For many years, the Christmas holidays were spent trying to divide the time between her family in St. Louis and mine in Kentucky while we lived hundreds of miles from either location. We couldn’t imagine not being with family for Christmas, so we didn’t mind the travel.
At some point as our boys got older, it dawned on me that they would have very few memories of Christmases at our own house with just the four of us. That saddened me because I felt like I was cheating them out of memories similar to what I had experienced. With not many years left with both of them home, we finally stopped using the holidays to travel to both locations. Linda’s parents decided to come to Louisville and visit us for a number of years around Christmas, opening the door to having a few Christmas mornings in our own home.
You’d have to ask my sons what their Christmas memories are. I can’t speak for them. But now that one of my sons has a young family of his own, I want him and other young families to know that it’s OK to start your own Christmas traditions as a family and not always feel obligated to do what others want or what has always been done in the past.
Traditions are precious. They are comforting. They can also hold young families back from creating their own important memories.
Be it for Christmas or other holidays, leap year lesson #359 is Start your own traditions.