Flexibility allows for some changes in tradition


Every Saturday after Thanksgiving begins with anticipation and a teeny bit of angst. For the past 18 years, Hubs and I decorate our Christmas tree and the rest of the Neen household. We’ve had help from the kiddos since my 16 year old was two – I will say, the process is smoother now than it was in 2001.

The anticipation builds as I think of pulling out all the decorations (Hubs and kids actually do this,) finding my favorite snowman, sparkly trees and school-made decorations. I get excited about making midnight milk, playing Christmas music and the slow transformation of our home into a Christmas themed wonderland.

The angst builds too as I worry about all it takes to pull out the decorations (Hubs and kids still actually do this,) the disagreements between siblings that will most definitely occur and the clash between my teenagers social lives and the tradition we’ve carefully built on this day.

The day does not disappoint. There is something magical waking up to the tune of a tradition. You kind of know what it’s going to look and sound like, but wonder about the newness the year can bring. These lovelies are a year older, with instagram accounts and Snapchats that need to be tended to and managed.

My daughter wakes up excited and determined, with a new holiday playlist and a time table of how the day will go. And yet, she has plans at 2:30, which she promises will be ok because we can finish half the decorating by then, and resume when she comes home. My son wakes up nonchalantly, wanting to know when the heavy lifting starts so he can determine when to eat breakfast and lunch. He later informs me he has afternoon plans, so Hubs and I try to accommodate them both and work our tradition into the schedules of the day.

When our schedule doesn’t work (at first,) for Boy, there is some pouting and negotiating, and a little silent talking between hubs and I trying to determine how much to allow and how much to enforce family time.

Working to lightly accommodate ourselves and our kids instead of holding steadfast to a ‘You must be here at this time to do this and we will not be flexible with our tradition…” works, so far, for our family. While we want to keep on with our lovely day, which we do in fact DO, we also want to give the kids a bit of room to breathe. Allowing a bit of flexibility seems to keep our kids engaged and wanting to be here to play our reindeer games. They still enjoy spending time with us. For this I am grateful.

The midnight milk is made. The tree is adorned and lit up. The playlists are over and we all lounge lazily in our Santa hats, pleased with our day, our ‘work’ and our time together. We stare at the tree and chat and laugh. No major arguments, just a little snag, which is a huge feat for a family of four. A little flexibility went a long way to help us enjoy our tradition, a little different than it was last year and probably different than it will be in 2016.

Grateful tonight for traditions, the ability to change them and the blessing to enjoy them in the first place. What are you grateful for today? Did you write about it in your gratitude journal? Let me know in the comments below!

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