Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | December 17, 2012

Making My Own Traditions

So I haven’t written here since September. Instead of playing catch up or awkwardly writing a post as if I’ve never been gone, here’s a great guest blog from Ashley. 

My name is Ashley and I blog at Writing To Reach You.  Erica asked me to write about establishing your own holiday traditions as you grow up and move away from home, which is something I think more and more about every year.  

I moved away from home more than six years ago.  The first several years, going home for the holidays was full of angst for me.  Not because my family is anything but lovely, but because my concept of home was changing in uncomfortable ways and it was strange to go from being an independent person back to being the youngest in a big family and the holidays are full of such high expectations.  I would take a deep breath every year before stepping on the plane in California to fly up to Washington.  In those years, I would cling to holiday traditions, and feel frustrated and even hurt when they weren’t upheld.

My family is not big on tradition and really never has been.  I’m not either, in most cases, but I discovered when I moved away from home that holiday traditions are important to me.  I love living on my own in a strange state.  I have plans to live all over the world.  I’m not even bothered that my hometown is always changing. And I don’t take a deep breath before stepping on the plane to fly home to Washington anymore.  But I want to spend Christmas Eve eating terrible junk food with my dad, brother, and sister, and I want everyone to be there on Christmas morning, so we can eat cinnamon rolls and open presents, and I don’t care if we have tacos or lasagna or ham, but I want there to be a Christmas dinner, and I want us to play board games afterwards.  Everything in my life can change, but I want just these few things to stay the same.  They’re important to me.

Most broken traditions I have just let slide.  Things change, and I understand that.  The traditions are not as important to other members of my family, because they aren’t as sensitive as I am or they didn’t move so far away from home or now they have families of their own.  I have been treating these as the Awkward Homeless Years–the space between being a kid and developing traditions of your own.

After a couple years of that, though, I realized I could keep being angsty and sad about broken traditions or I could start being proactive.  I always felt a bit silly and childish saying that actually this stuff does mean a lot to me, but one year my mom said something about not getting a tree because of her allergies, and that was just too much for me.  I said that I didn’t care if we got a fake tree or just decorated a floor lamp, but I needed something with lights and ornaments on it.  My mom was surprised, because she had no idea any of this mattered to me. I had maybe sort of kind of never mentioned it.  I still don’t hold onto every single tradition, but I have gotten better at saying which ones matter to me, and seeing that we uphold them when possible.

Only in the last year have I thought about creating my own traditions.  I guess in the Awkward Homeless Years, I thought I needed to have a family before it made sense to start in with traditions.  I also thought that traditions had to spring up naturally.  I realize now that I can start my own traditions and they don’t have to appear in my life like magic.  I have my own little tree now that I enjoy before I fly home for Christmas.  This year, I woke up early on Thanksgiving morning to run a Turkey Trot and had a lot of fun.  I’m thinking of little things I can start with friends.  I like that my traditions can be whatever I want, and I can try different things out to see what I find meaningful.  I’m responsible for keeping them going, but I also don’t have to depend exclusively on other people for the comfort I get from holiday traditions.

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