Yesterday before we got to some work, R wanted to watch the Polar Express. That movie makes me cry every single time I watch it. The Polar Express is a part of our winter traditions and so that’s precisely what it got me thinking about. We will watch it again, as it has been a tradition since it came out to watch it within a few days of the 25th. There’s just something specifically about that film and it’s message about belief and the magic of Christmas, that just really embodies the spirit of the season for me. It is one that really speaks to our family, our defining Christmas film, if you will.
When Sean and I were young and living in an apartment with our K-girl (either a year or 2 old), we opened our gifts Christmas morning, which didn’t take long at all, it only being us 3. I have 4 siblings and usually family would stay with us at Christmas or we would stay somewhere else, so the morning has always taken a bit more time to share and open gifts with each other. I was sort of at a loss with this new dynamic of just 3 of us. Neither of us really felt like cooking breakfast and we were going to visit family later in the day for visiting and dinner. So, we headed out to Denny’s, who happens to be open Christmas Day, to eat our morning meal. We now do this every year. There was one year where things were tough between Sean and I, in the midst of our split up, and not going out for breakfast was the one thing they expressed disappointment over. They had come to depend on it as a tradition that we simply always do. So that was the one year we missed and I realized how very important this tradition had become to our girls. So, in the other years we were split up, we still went for our family breakfast at Denny’s to keep our tradition alive. After we are done our morning routine, the girls each choose one thing to bring along with them to the restaurant, and we chat and give thanks and appreciate each other while having a meal at Denny’s.
Another tradition for us is participating in Santa’s Anonymous. I volunteered with them when I was in high school and then took a break for a couple of years but always wanted to do it again. When I had children, I wanted to communicate the importance of giving back, very early on. Santa’s Anonymous was an easy way for us to volunteer as a family that our kids could still be involved in and we have been doing this one since R was born in 2003. The girls typically choose a gift for a child in their own age bracket and then Sean and I choose a gift for one of the age brackets that typically has a shortage (often it’s the older kids). We also help in the delivering of the gifts and our holiday plans always revolve around when the delivery date is for Santa’s Anonymous. I have also wrapped gifts for them in the past. Our involvement with Santa’s Anonymous has become something we just do every year. A part of our holiday traditions that allows us to embody that spirit of giving.
Although I do many things in an nontraditional fashion, tradition within my family unit is very important to me and I think traditions are a huge part of each family’s story. Our children take comfort in the fact that although the world changes around them and people change, there are a few very specific things we do each and every year. And maybe one day these same or similar traditions will be ones they share with their own families. Or maybe they will have completely new traditions. But surely these traditions will be a part of the stories they share with their own families and be prominent in their childhood memories.