Without getting maudlin or delving too deep, let’s just say my family holiday traditions as a child ran more along the lines of a good Hank Williams, Jr. song. Holidays were just heartbreak all dressed up.
When you meet the right person to share your life with, they make you want to be a better person. Once it happened to me, I realized I could keep blaming the past for the fact that I didn’t like holidays, or I could put on my big girl panties and change it. So every year I forced myself to take the steps to make it better. Reach out. Take a risk. Offer to host a holiday meal. Have a holiday party. Invite everyone to my home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Together we’ve begun to make new traditions and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. And I’ve learned it’s okay if they don’t. Those that work will continue.
Between us we have lots of adult kids and a couple grandkids, and due to divorces they’ve had more holidays like mine than happy ones like my partners. So this is the tradition we’ve created. We’ve been doing it for the past several years and now the kids plan for it, look forward to it and best of all pay their own way to come to it. So we kind of figure it must mean something to them too.
We choose a weekend sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That way the actual holidays are free for the other parent/families and we don’t put the kids in the position of going to multiple houses or having to choose. At least one of every person’s favorite foods shows up on the menu at some point during the weekend. We have a reverse scavenger hunt for charity, and while we do get gifts for the little ones, the only gifts we buy adults are small gag gifts for our white elephant gift exchange, which always seems to engender much laughter and mayhem. All of us are in agreement that spending the cash to be together for the weekend is gift enough since we’re spread all over the country.
Honestly, these days I look forward to the holidays. I can’t wait to see everyone. And I’ve finally figured out the whole feed-you-to-death thing. It’s because cooking the food, serving it, enjoying it together is a labor of love. I’ve learned it’s not about the getting, it’s about the giving. About the love you share freely, whether it’s returned or not. I’m still learning. But, I do know it makes my heart happy to share. And if there’s one thing a romance writer knows about, its love, in all its many forms.
So do you love holiday traditions or would you be just fine without them?