I am a very traditional person. I don’t mean that I’m stodgy or old, but at the ripe old age of oh, let’s say 21, I knew how the holidays should happen. My grandmother should magically appear at our house (someone had to drive six hours each way to get her, but it wasn’t me). The tree should be set up in the corner of my parent’s living room. There should be Christmas Eve snack smorgasbord while my sister and I gorge ourselves and watch Merry Christmas Charlie Brown, The Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman. We could open one present but the rest had to wait for Christmas morning. I would fall asleep in the left corner of my parent’s couch until someone woke me to go to bed.
Fast forward a decade and change and my traditional nature has been challenged. Marriage will do that. Now, each year is a tug of war between families for who gets Christmas Eve and who gets Christmas morning. Each side wants both but gets one. There’s the question of who will get grandma and who gets to (or has to) cook dinner? Add the same questions to my sister’s family and my sister-in-law’s family and what should be a simple celebration can turn into a nightmare of logistics.
So this year, I’m going to try to carve out a little bit of time for my family–the one that I chose. My husband and I welcomed our daughter into the world this fall and all I can think about it how much fun Christmas will be again as I get to experience it through her eyes. There’s so much that I want her to experience, all of which she won’t remember except through digital pictures as she’ll only be three months by the time Christmas rolls around. But that doesn’t deter me.
Here’s my promise to her: I promise that I won’t let family schedules get in the way of Christmas magic. I won’t let the gifts get in the way of the message. She wasn’t the first baby that was seen as a gift. I’m sure that Mary thought that Jesus was a perfect present too. Marveling at his tiny hands and feet, being grateful that her labor was over and meeting the child that she would someday call Lord must have been an amazing feeling. Although I know that my daughter isn’t the messiah, she is a miracle and I see her as one even in the midst of the challenges of parenting.
I promise to sing carols with her and make sugar cookies, even though mine aren’t very good. I promise to show her only the good Christmas movies. I promise to take her ice skating even though I fall down more than I skate. I promise to make her laugh and surprise her and try to show her how to hold onto wonder. I promise to live fully and take her with me. I promise to find a traditional that is just hers and her father’s and mine to share and hold onto it forever.
So maybe this is how I get my traditional side back–through my daughter. After all, even traditions have to grow and change a little bit. They will be all the sweeter with her by my side.