A lot of the holiday merriment in my house includes hastily invented time honored traditions. Or at least they were 7 years ago when my twins were born. Now, they’ve become so ingrained, we too believe they were handed down for generations. But what do we do when we can’t follow our most beloved traditions?
A friend of mine, SA, married an Indian man. One of his family traditions is that a new bride comes to the family home and cooks a meal shortly after the wedding for the family. Yes, I raised a judgmental eyebrow too when I first heard it. Well SA doesn’t cook. When the tradition was first introduced in the family, it was an era when multiple generations lived in one house. The kitchen was the domain of the women. By requiring a new daughter in law to cook a meal shortly after the wedding, it was the family’s way of relinquishing the kitchen to her so she’d feel comfortable in the home.
Now SA and her husband did not plan to live with her inlaws, and making a stop at the family home required an air flight and a two day delay in their honeymoon. Yet, the family was insistent that they wanted to continue this tradition. So after much discussion and negotiation, her mother in law suggested that she would make the meal, and SA would come stir the pot and add the garnishes. If you are face palming, I don’t blame you.
At the end of this experience, SA was glad she did it. While she felt silly just stirring the pot and then helping serve a meal her mother in law had cooked, it allowed her to get to know her husband’s family without the stress of the wedding festivities. They had meaningful bonding time. When she left, she experienced what new brides in her husband’s family had for generations; acceptance. She told me that in order to keep important traditions alive, we need to be able to edit them.
So this holiday season, I’m editing an important family tradition of ours. Each year on Black Friday, my family and I go cut down our Christmas tree at a local farm. It’s a little back breaking to haul and setup a 8ft fresh tree and last week my husband herniated a disc in his back and needed to have surgery. This means no fresh cut tree for us this year. We need to go buy an artificial one. When I told my seven year old, he was quite upset. Not even the promise of an extra present to make up for it would quell his tears. “What do you mean we won’t have a fresh tree,” he said. “Artificial trees are not the same, they don’t drop needles” To me, the best part of this tradition is decorating the tree together. But to him, it’s all about selecting and cutting it down as a family. I’m not sure how I’ll edit this tradition for our circumstance this year. Maybe a much smaller tree. One a seven year old can lug.
So in advance of the thanksgiving holiday next week, tell me, what traditions do you edit, or wish you could edit? Comment to let me know.
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