Of course, by box, I mean what is expected of you by your family and friends. It can be truly difficult to forge your path while holding onto the traditions and respect your family instilled in you. It can be difficult any time or day of the year, but especially around the holidays. Even more so as you grow up, and try to establish boundaries and make traditions of your own.
Sometimes, the traditions and habits you’ve been partaking in since you were five get a bit stymied. You crave some excitement, like your co-worker who’s been training for the turkey day 5k. You don’t run, but you could if you didn’t have plans. The same ol’ plans. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to wake up bright early and put on your warmest gear, to go to the parade in person, instead of having to begin cooking at the crack of dawn.
Now I know every family is different, they have their own dynamic or unique challenges. For example, my mother is disabled, she can’t do things she used to be able to do like stand all day watching a glittered parade rumbled by. Of course, I can’t drag her out to that. Nevertheless, I have some tips that may help you figure out how to redo things a bit more to your preferences, and of course, I’m going to use random examples.
- Talk to your family. Be it your mother, spouse, siblings. find out what it is that they love the most about the holiday that you spend together. Maybe you always assumed they liked to spend the whole day cooking but in reality, they liked the competitive board games session afterward. You will know that’s something to show up for, and maybe next year you can all potluck the mains and sides to your meal, instead of being cooped up in the kitchen.
2. Try your hardest not to cut the thing that means the most to someone. For my mother, it’s the simple act of getting to have all her children in the same house on the holiday. Which is not as easy as it sounds, with all of us being grown and having children and in-laws of our own, there are some major schedule debacles for that. Whether it be game time, watching the football game or gift exchange it’s important to show up. Important to them, and important to your character.
3. If it is something as difficult as the schedule, consider doing your Thanksgiving or even Christmas celebration the day before or the day after. Much of my family can’t make it to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving so we do the day after at my parents, where we help them put up her decorations and cook yet another big meal for all of us. She may have to wait a day but she gets to have her wish of all of us in one place once again.
4. Decide what you can do in that one day. If you want to spend the morning running the turkey 5k you may be too tired to get back and cook a feast for your family. Maybe you can talk your spouse into prepping and cooking most of the meal for you, or if you’re going to a family member’s home maybe you can choose the easiest part of the meal. Double bonus if you can get your spouse to do that too.
5. Who said that Thanksgiving dinner had to be at 2 pm anyway? Or even dinner? I have always wanted to catch a show at the theatre on Thanksgiving evening, after a delicious meal with my family. Something about the holidays makes me think, theatre. With dinner running so late it has me planning to change the time of the dinner to a bit earlier. Next year I’m even considering brunch!
6. On a harder note; if the thing ruining your holiday is the people you hold relationships with themselves, that is going to take a lot more work. Some people use the holidays as an excuse to avoid drama. I don’t see why it can’t be a reason to mend old wounds or put restless debates to bed for good. If you’re still mad at your sister because she got grandpa’s pocket watch in the will, you may need to find a way to accept that life isn’t fair. Let go of the watch; at least you still have your sister.
7. Try not to play the competition game with your family and friends. Do you really need to make everything from scratch with locally sourced spices, or go out of your way to diy all the decorations? All so you can impress everyone? Try letting them impress you for once. It’s quite nice, and you get to see the wonderful skills they have. Instead of impressing them, you simply love them. Bonus: you save time and can make it to the theatre!
I know these ideas seem like no-brainers to some, and to others, they seem completely ridiculous. Why change a good thing? That box truly is so cozy! If you still love your holiday and how you’re doing it, then, by all means, don’t change it! However, do keep your mind open for the future. Maybe your baby cousin really wants to do the holiday in her new home one year. And your kids may be young now, but someday soon they are going to want to put their own spin on the holidays and it will be important that you adjust accordingly.
Whether you keep your traditions the same or mix it up, let your holiday bring you joy. That is the entire reason for their existence. I am grateful for words, love, and of course, plenty of ink.