I am a stickler when it comes to traditions. I always want everything to be just how it was when I was a kid. Always. No changing. Got it? I’m like a mini Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, “Tradition, tradition, tradition!”
I have always easily welcomed new people into our family’s traditions, but I haven’t been so willing to altering the traditions themselves.
Then I did this thing. I got married. HUGE blessing, but holy crap did anyone tell you when you get married you have to like compromise with the other person and be open to their traditions???
Up until now, I didn’t really think much of the whole “compromising on traditions thing” because for the past four years my lovely German-engineered unicorn has been so giving. We have always done the things my family does around the holidays. We go with my family for thanksgiving (no biggie he’s German, they don’t celebrate it anyway) and we are always with my family for Christmas. His family is always, always invited, but never have we gone back to Germany and back to his traditions. Until this year.
Now, every logical person would be so insanely excited to spend the holiday season amidst Christmas markets in a magical land of gingerbread and wonder. I, however, had to adjust to the idea that, for the first time in 26 years I would be participating in someone else’s traditions and I would be spending Christmas without my parents.
So, maybe this isn’t a big deal to you, but to me? It’s massive. I started to get really sad actually because to me, Christmas is all about our traditions and the ideas of what we are “supposed to do together,” it’s what we’ve always done and what I assumed we would always be doing.
A few months ago, I told my dad, “I’m really excited to go to Germany, but I’m a little sad, I’m going to miss you so much and everything we do.”
And he told me, “Honey, Domi has gone along with all of our traditions for years, it’s one year, you’ll be just fine and it will be so amazing in its own way, even if it’s different.”
Different is a hard word for me because I always want everything to be the same. But also, as I grow and change I realize that the same is boring. The same is small and the same doesn’t bring you to beautiful places to meet new and incredible people. And my Dad was right. Domi has been willing for years to go along with my family’s traditions. At the very, very least, I owe him a Christmas with everything he grew up with, without kicking and screaming about it. And even though I know I love my traditions, I couldn’t quite figure out why I was freaking out so, so much about not being home for Christmas.
Since I couldn’t completely let go, we arranged a little mini-Christmas with my parents in LA with our traditional Christmas dinner and our traditions that we love. We spent the day preparing Christmas dinner and opening presents and being together. We went to pick up things forgotten from the supermarket and something strange happened. I walked into the supermarket prepared to see people rushing and panicking over last minute changes to Christmas dinner. There’s always a buzz on holidays at the market and I was completely prepared to walk face first into hullaballoo. I walked into the store and it was really quiet. Elevator music was being pumped through the speakers and I was so confused. It took me a minute to realize that it wasn’t actually December 25th. I chuckled to myself and finished up shopping and returned home to mash some potatoes.
That’s when I realized something, you can make any normal day feel like a holiday. It’s about what you choose to make of your days. It about celebrating days that aren’t even supposed to be celebratory.
The holidays have a lot riding on them. They’re supposed to be a “certain” way for many people and changing up ingrained traditions after decades is not easy for everyone, but if you can know in your heart that the holidays are about the people you’re with and that honestly, they are just one more day in the year it’s easier to let go of the traditions and to know, whatever you do, whomever you’re with will make it special because it is our decision to make these days special. And that means every day of the week should feel more extraordinary. Every day should be celebrated and every day you can create the how you feel. It’s all about perspective, friends.
Can I choose to be sad that I won’t be with my parents on Christmas or that it’s going to look different this year? Absolutely. But if I do that, I would be choosing not to enjoy an incredible moment for my husband and me, a magical place and some really, really special people that I also love very much.
So I’m deciding to hell with traditions (I know, family, don’t faint…). But, I want to celebrate every day and accept change and be excited no matter what we decide to do because it’s all up to me. (Yay!) It’s okay to panic when things are going to look different, it’s just important that you can breathe through the panic and know that change doesn’t have to be scary it can be fun and it’s a process, so don’t beat yourself up, okay?
Happy day friends. You decide, is it just another day? Or is today a special day? Totally up to you. Enjoy your holidays. If the turkey burns know it’s okay, you can try another day and make it just as special.
PS I know I make it sound like, just change your mind! But it’s so freaking hard. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s a process and it takes time. I fluctuate between being so excited to be on our way to Germany and being so sad that my parents won’t be with me for the holidays. I have to keep reminding myself. It’s all good if your thoughts don’t just “change.” Just thinking about the idea of knowing that you can change them is a step in a positive direction. Much, much love friends! xoxox, CAMDW