While I’m not usually one to be bothered too terribly by change, I am a staunch believer in traditions, and I think it’s important to keep at least a few annual traditions alive, especially around the holidays.
Since my husband and I started dating, every holiday season since 2003 has mostly centered on what I want to do. Of course we balance things out, and spend time with both families, but I’ve battled to keep some of my own traditions alive throughout those years.
But 2019 signifies a change. I’m not sure what exactly made me give in, but this year will be a Christmas different than the rest. It’s not a huge difference, but when you’re stuck on keeping traditions, even giving in a little seems like a big deal.
Since I was a child, Dec. 24 was the day we looked forward to. It was a day unlike any other. We would impatiently spend the day putting the last details together, with my mom often locked in her room wrapping presents (unbeknown to us). By 9 p.m., we’d likely be exhausted from all the waiting around, and sometimes we’d try to take a nap before getting ready and heading to midnight mass in Lafond – at midnight.
After midnight mass, we’d make our way to my aunt and uncle’s just a few miles down the road where there would be a huge meal waiting, lots of visiting, and more anticipation.
After a couple hours, we’d make the drive home. And while we should have been exhausted by this point, since it was usually well past 3 a.m., we would get home and promptly open presents. Technically, it was Christmas morning, and Santa always seemed to come while we were at church, not while we were sleeping.
Once the excitement had worn down, we really would be exhausted, and we’d head to bed and sleep in on Christmas morning.
Midnight mass is a tradition I gave up once I had kids of my own. I’m not sure how my parents convinced themselves to do it – or if keeping traditions alive really does make a person a bit unreasonable, but once I had kids of my own, there was no way midnight mass at midnight was happening. We’d go to church at 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, which then became 7 p.m., and I think even 6 p.m. in recent years.
But, we always kept the tradition of opening gifts on Christmas Eve going. My two sons have actually never opened gifts on Christmas morning – which is an idea that took a long time for my husband to come around to. Actually, he never did come around to the idea, and has complained about it every year.
And so, that is why this year Christmas will be different.
After about 15 years of doing things my way, which I admit is probably not the usual way, I’ve agreed to break my tradition. Our kids are going to have to sleep through their excitement, and I don’t doubt they will wake up bright and early out of anticipation on Dec. 25.
In a way, I’m excited. Change is good, or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself.