It is never too late to start new traditions. It’s fun to try something new. If it doesn’t work out – oh, well. It might even be something to talk about in years to come… remember when we tried that?… In the last couple years I’ve been making dark moist gingerbread cookies from my sister-in-law’s recipe that makes so many gingerpeople that I freeze bagfuls and we get to eat them until mid-spring. On both my and my husband’s sides, our families have started playing “The Present Game” since our gatherings have gotten too large to give presents to everyone, with the addition of children and spouses. Young and old, we look forward to rolling the dice and either picking a present from the pile or stealing one from someone else. My sister gave me a new-old videotape of my favorite Christmas TV “shorts” from childhood days, so now I like to watch the “Hard Rock, Coco, and Joe,” “Suzy Snowflake,” and “Frosty the Snowman” trilogy several times during December. My kids are amazed to see the kind of primitive stuff their mom used to run to the TV to watch. Now you can find this trilogy on DVD at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, or www.museum.tv.
Sometimes it is really difficult to break with traditions as they can turn into something sacred. Some traditions may be retained throughout generations, but often when children are born (or become teens or get married) things change. Each generation has its own ideas of what to do to make their occasions special or just more manageable. I remember how traumatic it was to stop trying to visit both sets of faraway parents’ houses for Christmas. Now we leave the day after Christmas and take turns each year as to which direction we go and I am so much less grinch-like. It is okay to be flexible, to allow each generation to do what it enjoys most, mixing old and new ideas to create their own meaningful rituals. The idea is to create a pleasant, fun holiday that makes for happy memories for all (or almost all!).