As we anticipate potential record highs on Christmas Day (80+ degrees in Savannah!??!), you may be singing the Hawaiian Christmas Carol “Mele Kalikimaka” around your unlit fireplace instead of “I’m Dreaming of A White Christmas” in front of a roaring yule log. Funny how quickly a tradition can be turned on its head for reasons beyond our control.
Holiday traditions are important in every family. Whether it’s candlelight Christmas Eve worship services or who reads “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” or who hangs the star on the tree or what you have for breakfast or for lunch or for dinner. Traditions are important. They bring a sense of comfort and belonging. They reinforce values. They are avenues for creating memories and for pausing to reflect on past memories. In fact, I think most traditions are often little more than having done something once which created a fond memory for us and wanting to replicate that fond memory as many times as possible. That’s simply how we are programed.
Traditions can also get in the way. There, I said it. They are often cited as an inflexible rule to try and stave the evolution of a family. Think about it. How many of the things your family did last year were the exact same as from 10 or 15 years ago? Probably very few. Traditions must evolve and change as our families evolve and change. At some point over the past decade, your candlelight service was at a different venue. Remember that year that Dad had laryngitis and Mom got to read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”? Your Christmas morning is likely spent a bit differently with your 15 year old than it was when he was 5.
If you have recently gone through a family law case, you are very likely going to be starting some new traditions this year. And that’s ok. Christmas morning will most assuredly be different. Hopefully some new “traditions” will be started to replace the ones that are no longer going to create a good memory. When pressed to maintain a tradition in the face of a changed family dynamic, ask if the tradition being maintained is going to create a fond memory for your child. If the answer is no, this is the year to start a new tradition.
This year, if you find yourself singing “Mele Kalikimaka” when you traditionally would be singing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” with your family, smile. Maybe the tradition is less about what song you sing and more about the memory you’re creating right then and there.
And who knows, next year, instead of over the hills and through the woods for your holiday celebration, maybe you’ll be dragging out your beach gear to replicate those fond memories of 2015.