More Thoughts on Traditions

posted by Andrea | 11/2/2016
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traditions

As many of you know, I’m a HUGE fan of basic systems and routines

I feel confident that my systems and routines help to simplify and streamline almost every single aspect of my life.

However, when it comes to “traditions” my feelings are slightly different.

Yes, some traditions help to simplify and streamline (like cinnamon rolls every Sunday morning), and some traditions are just super fun and exciting (like the Memorial Day parade). But there are so many other traditions that seem to “weigh me down”. They do not simplify or streamline my life… and they aren’t anything I look forward to or anxiously anticipate all week, month, or year long.

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I’m sure many of you can relate to feeling bogged down by long-standing traditions that continue on and on and on, just because “you’ve always done it that way”… am I right?

Changing or stopping a long-standing tradition can be difficult and emotional — especially for more sentimental folks. However, in my experience, when it’s obvious that a certain tradition is just not working, a change is SO freeing and refreshing.

Maybe you skip book club this year.

Maybe you quit your current volunteer position.

Maybe you resign from the party planning committee at work.

Maybe you pass up the girls’ weekend to spend a little extra time at home.

Maybe you forgo holiday cards this year and go easy on seasonal decorations.

Maybe you let your gym membership expire.

Maybe you get together on New Year’s day instead of Christmas morning because it fits better with everyone’s schedule.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea here.

Traditions CAN be fabulous, but they can also be a huge pain in the butt!

As we enter another holiday season (filled with lots and lots of traditions) I encourage you to evaluate your own traditions. Do you actually enjoy the traditions or benefit from them in some way? If not, the traditions will become just one more to-do to check off your list — and I don’t think any of us need or want more unnecessary to-do’s.

Of course, there are times when we continue to follow certain traditions simply because our children, our spouse, our parents, or our friends love the traditions and we love these people… but when traditions become a burden, cause unnecessary stress, or just aren’t fun anymore, it might be time for a change.

You might get a little push-back from friends and relatives… but you might also be surprised by the fact that several others were thinking the same thing, and were just too afraid to voice it.

Have you recently changed or stopped any traditions? Do you have any you’re dreading this year? Or any you’re REALLY looking forward to?

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28 comments

  1. Chris K in Wisconsin

    11/02/2016

    I remember 40 years ago when I was hosting Christmas for the first time. We had a 3 year old. My parents and grandparents came, and my mom brought a large ham. My grandmother and I were in the kitchen and my mom was playing with our daughter. I was preparing the ham and sliced off the end. My grandmother asked what in the world I was doing. I told her that this was how Mom had always made the ham. She called my mom into the kitchen and asked her why I was cutting off the end of the ham. My mom stood there looking at me and started to laugh. The only reason she had done that was because she didn’t have a roasting pan large enough when she was making a big ham. It must have been the only times I had really been watching. So, sometimes “traditions” have no merit when we do something simply because it is always done that way.

    I remember the running between the 2 families when our kids were little. It was about 125 miles between the two in Wisconsin and Illinois. The weather is rarely ideal at that time of the year, either. We were all exhausted by the time “it was over”. So sad. The kids would open their presents and then we would start packing everything away to get to the next stop and then finally home. Not fun for anyone. Sometimes we need to put our foot down to keep the sanity!

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    Andrea Reply:

    That’s funny — and yes, I agree with everything you said here.
    We are super fortunate that Dave’s family does Christmas on New Year’s Day AND both our parents live about 15 minutes apart — so we don’t have the hassle of long drives in bad weather!

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  2. Amy

    11/02/2016

    So so true! Last year I pushed really hard to move our extended family Christmas to the weekend before the holiday rather than Christmas morning at noon. It was really important to my husband and me that we have our own family tradition- and we wanted a laid back Christmas morning at home since we had a child (now two)! My mom threw a fit and guilt tripped me nonstop about how I was ruining Christmas. I stood my ground, and long story short we all enjoyed our new tradition so much more! By moving the dinner to a different day everyone was able to stay longer and enjoy the food because they weren’t rushing from party to party! Change can be hard but it is freeing!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow, you must be stronger than me. I’ve been pushing to do Christmas with my family the week before (for the same reasons you listed) for at least 3 years now with no luck.
    And yes, everyone leaves super early when we do it on Christmas because they all need to get to the other family party. If we did it on a different day, we could stay longer and enjoy it more (at least in my opinion). Now… to try and convince everyone else of that!

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  3. Olga

    11/02/2016

    Ohhhhhh, my painful spot…ha-ha…:)
    I want to take vacation to the ocean instead of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for couple of years already and don’t have the courage to actually do it. 😀

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    Andrea Reply:

    Have you suggested it? Maybe others would want to do this too 🙂

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    Linda Reply:

    One Thanksgiving season after we’d had some particularly painful family dealings after my MIL passed away, I couldn’t handle the idea of cooking, cleaning and sitting politely with people who had done and said some very hurtful things to me and other family members. SO…. we made a hotel reservation (for my husband and myself, my parents and my children) in a nearby city and bought tickets for a Disney On Ice “Ice Capades” performance on Thanksgiving Day. We enjoyed a lovely meal in a nice restaurant before the performance and had a lovely change. The next year we were back to our “usual” family stuff, but that year we just needed a break. It was a good choice for us, for that year.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I like that you were able to take a break but then still go back to the previous tradition — you didn’t have to totally drop it forever. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    11/02/2016

    I love our holiday traditions but we keep them very simple. It can be tricky with family. On my husband’s side of the family, we’re the only ones married and that live nearby (he has younger siblings still at home), so they’re used to all of their kids being at everything. Of course, we have to arrange things with my side of the family too, so we can’t be everywhere at once! It all takes a bit more planning than anyone is used to 🙂

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  5. Barbara

    11/02/2016

    Your post, and the comments have helped me see that, instead of continuing (or not) to host a family Christmas Eve dinner that’s become problematic, there is a third option. That is, hosting a different event , not at my home, around the New Year. I’m thinking of booking a hotel suite, ordering in appetizers & drinks, and inviting the family to drop by and to use the hotel pool, if they wish. Bonus for me: no cooking, minimal clean-up; and a one or two night “stay-cation” on my own!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow – this sounds AWESOME! I’m sure your family will enjoy this new way of celebrating this year! And yes, it sounds much more enjoyable for you too!

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  6. Mara

    11/02/2016

    I love this post! A big part of reevaluating our traditions started with cutting clutter on our decorations. We didn’t have a TON of stored holiday decor to begin with, but I really can’t stand the idea of storing something all year to use if for 3 weeks! So, we decorate mainly with crafts the kids make for all the holidays! Last year, we didn’t even do ornaments on our tree. We simply put the tree up and added random things the kids brought home from daycare or made at home! Then, we could toss it post-holiday but still have some fun decorating 🙂 Great points you make in this post!

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    Andrea Reply:

    exactly! For the last few years, I have hardly done any Christmas decorating (I used to do a bunch) because it was just too much hassle with the kids getting into everything. I think this year, we’ll probably just do a tree and a few simple decorations that the kids can’t reach 🙂

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  7. Jo

    11/02/2016

    My familys side used to have the tradition to buy each other individual christmas gifts (I have 4 siblings w/sig others and parents) but a few years back my mom suggested we do secret Santa instead and everyone would pick names and just buy a gift for that one person we drew. Surprisingly everyone agreed and we love it and we all save time and stress and little cash too!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I’m thankful that both my family and Dave’s family has basically stopped doing gifts between siblings — it does make things a lot easier.

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  8. Shan

    11/02/2016

    Andrea, Love your honesty, as well as clarity and independence of thinking!!! As a (formerly) totally compliant person, I’m learning to let go of things (and people) who are a “pain in the butt”!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha! Good for you! I bet you’re happier now too 🙂

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    Denise Z Reply:

    Andrea is wise beyond her years!

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  9. Stel

    11/02/2016

    Trudy has a great idea! I married into unbendable tradition regarding Christmas, that is stifling and has the family grumbling every year 🙁 It unfortunately lead to strained relations, and it’s something that I will remember with my kids – have plans, have traditions, but nothing is cast in stone.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, you are not alone with the stifling traditions and grumbling… I can relate in some situations and I know MANY people who feel similarly to you! I too have vowed to remember these feelings when our children are grown and don’t want to do things “the way we’ve always done them”.
    I do think it’s harder for sentimental people to let go of certain traditions… which is probably why it’s easy for me to let go 🙂

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    Barb Reply:

    Every parent needs to remember these words from Stel: ” nothing is cast in stone.” The importance of loving flexibility and compromise is essential for healthy family relationships when your children become adults and marry. This new family should have the freedom to blend their childhood family traditions into their own, without fear of anger or manipulation, from either set of parents and siblings. After all, they are now dealing with their new spouses own siblings (and their spouses) as well. Have fun together. Love one another.

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    Kris Reply:

    I love the way you worded this and points you made, Barb! It is my first year married so my husband and I will be dealing with this even moreso this year than in years past when we still did holiday things with each others’ family but didn’t have as much ‘commitment’ to attend each others’ family gatherings as we do now.

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    Andrea Reply:

    ah! Enjoy your first Christmas together 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Barb — great advice (as usual)

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  10. Trudy

    11/02/2016

    I was the first one in my family to marry and have children. My husband’s siblings already had kids when we started.

    So rather than try to spend quality time with both families (one always got shortchanged)…..we started celebrating Christmas with my family the Sunday before. You knew when it would happen, people could make plans around it and when my siblings started their families, they were very grateful not to have to try to do both either. We felt it was more important to spend A day together, rather than getting hung up Christmas Day together.

    It’s now worked very well for 30 years and we actually enjoy the day. We have always kept it simple, heavy appetizers rather than a meal, bring whatever you feel like, dress comfy and just hang out.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes yes, I can relate to this!
    We are very lucky that Dave’s parents decided to do “Christmas” on New Year’s Day — it makes everything SOOOOOOO much easier for Dave, his sister, and his brother. I am also the oldest in my family and our kids are the only grandchildren on that side and my family is still very intent on doing a big huge Christmas meal ON Christmas day (right when the kids are normally napping) It will probably more enjoyable once our kids are a bit older 🙂

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  11. Deb

    11/02/2016

    “Traditions can be fabulous, but they can also be a HUGE pain in the butt!” bahahahaha…….so true.

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    Denise Z Reply:

    Best line of the day, right there!

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