My family tends to wallow in their traditions. I believe in tradition, and we have a ton of them: the Christmas potato, cutting down a tree from the family ranch, my Christmas cardamon rolls, the lighted tractor parade, the world's tallest living Christmas tree lighting.
But this year, they felt heavy. They felt like a burden I was carting around despite my grief over my Grandpa's death this month. My husband urged letting go of holiday traditions that weighed us down, gave us stress. I tried. No Black Friday shopping, no Christmas cards, no baking for holiday cookie plates, no decorating our porch. Better, but I'm maybe still too glad the holiday is over. I counted the days until December 26th, and then felt cheated when I had to spend that day putting away the carloads of presents my kids received from the six grandparents.
I've decided to keep the traditions that give me joy: carols, a lit but lightly decorated tree, a casual open house, our early quiet Christmas, Santa Lucia day. I've already decided to cut back again for next year. Everyone outside of my house will receive one gift per person or household. Only enough household decorations to appease my kids.
I don't want to sound like Scrooge, but I'm ready to let go of traditions that stress me, that I don't feel the joy in maintaining. We started two new traditions that are very us. We took our kayaks out on the bay with the kids crabbing for our Christmas feast. And tonight we cut up the Christmas tree for a bonfire in the backyard, with each person putting on a branch and giving a hope for the new year.
I hope for a merrier Christmas next year.