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Creating New Holiday Traditions

Last year I faced the second holiday season with my husband deployed overseas. This made me really examine what I could do to make the holiday special for my kids. Obviously, it isn’t easy for two young kiddos to have a dad away during the holiday season -especially when grown ups cringe when they find out he’s in Afghanistan, which really doesn’t help my kids feel any better about the situation- so of course I have the tendency to don my Super Mom hat in an effort to make it a memorable time that the kids will look back on fondly someday and perhaps not feel too badly about their dad being gone.

Super Mom is Super Stressed

At first, I had the grandest of plans for our holidays. Amazing exterior Christmas light display! A Thanksgiving feast! A family-friendly New Years Eve party that packs our house with people! Once I started really thinking about the logistics behind making all these plans actually happen, however, I realized that there was simply no way for this already-stretched mom to manage this dazzling holiday schedule. Who was I kidding? I’m lucky to get the kids off to school on time, let alone manage a hectic self-induced holiday bonanza.

So then I backed off my expectations a little. Instead of planning a Thanksgiving feast, I decided we would just accept an offer from anyone who invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner. I also decided we wouldn’t have Christmas lights outside, and as far as New Years Eve goes, we would just play it by ear.

A Change of Plans

The real epiphany came when no Thanksgiving dinner invite came. It turns out all of our friends were either leaving town or already had houses packed with visitors for the holiday. This is when I really started thinking about holiday traditions, and if it really is a turkey on the table that makes Thanksgiving special or if maybe there was something else I could do to make the holiday special without making me stress myself into oblivion.

Oddly enough, I had a sudden idea to call a nearby indoor water park to see if they are open on Thanksgiving, and lo and behold they were. I pictured the kids frolicking through the water park, entirely too happy to think about how they’re missing Dad on Thanksgiving and instead consumed with soaking each other silly. I approached my kids with my idea, holding my breath in worry that they would complain about the lack of turkey, stuffing, and all that jazz, but they were so thrilled about the idea that the deal was sealed. Our new Thanksgiving tradition was set.

My New Tradition: Flexibility

When it comes right down to it, I had to accept that I was the temporary head of this family and one of the perks was being able to toss tradition aside with reckless abandon. I’ve been wondering a lot about what holiday traditions I stress out about just for the sake of tradition, when in reality the rest of my family doesn’t actually hold the tradition all that dear. As a family, we’re allowed to decide what traditions work for us, and when my husband was deployed, holiday tradition just has to look a little different.

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