Holiday traditions are sacred, but creating new ones can be just as much fun
For some of us, the best part of the holidays is tradition. Whether it’s reading The Night Before Christmas each Christmas Eve, an annual shopping trip with loved ones, or a special meal on Christmas Day, it’s common to associate holidays with the activities we look forward to year-after-year.
But what happens when a change occurs and traditions start to look different? Be it a shift in family dynamics, relocation, or the first holiday with a baby in the picture, maneuvering these new situations can be challenging.
Whatever your situation, they key to navigating change is to acknowledge and accept that your holiday will look different than years past. Embrace this change and look forward to the opportunity of creating new traditions. Here are some additional tips for how to handle newness at the holidays.
First holiday alone
Whether you’re divorced, widowed or have recently gone through a break-up, it can be tough to face a holiday when it feels like there’s a void in your heart. Don’t try to cover up this hole. Instead, try to fill it.
The goal is to fill this void with love, positivity and joy. Start by reaching out to a trusted loved one and letting him or her know how you feel. It’s unfair to expect people to help you if no one knows how you’re feeling. Be specific here — if you need plans for Christmas Eve, share that. You may very well end up with an invitation!
Also, remember, this invitation goes both ways. If you want to continue an old tradition, invite additional loved ones to join you. Your traditions may look different, but that doesn’t mean they must die. Learn more about coping with loneliness during the holidays.
First holiday in a new place
Perhaps you moved this year and it’s your first holiday away from loved ones. It can be tough to know that they’re all continuing your old traditions, but you can’t join in.
Have you ever seen a photo on social media that makes you feel hurt because you couldn’t be there? This is the feeling you want to avoid. Instead, ask to be a part of the celebration. Try video-chatting into the festivities for a short while, and make sure you have the opportunity to connect with everyone you care most about.
Additionally, try reaching out to people in your area who may also be in a new situation. While it may make you feel nervous or vulnerable to extend an invitation, this becomes easier when you remember that others are probably feeling the same way you are. In most cases, people are thrilled to receive an invitation!
First holiday with a baby
A new child is often the greatest gift of all. While you may have to adjust your traditional schedule to make space for feeding breaks and naptime, this is a small sacrifice to exchange for great joy.
The most important thing you can do is communicate your new schedule with friends and family. Tell them what times and activities will work for you up front, so that no one is disappointed when they learn about a change later on.
To make the most of this holiday, try taking your child to visit Santa or consider decorating an ornament to commemorate your baby’s first Christmas. These may be great activities for your new family to enjoy together, or you can invite extended relatives as well. Including additional family members can help them appreciate the joy a child brings at Christmastime, instead of focusing on the fact that things have changed.
All traditions start somewhere. If you find yourself dealing with newness this holiday, perhaps this is the perfect year to start a tradition that will be loved for years to come. Though change is uncomfortable, it can also lead to our greatest opportunities.
Dealing with grief this holiday season? Read Part 1 and Part 2 of our interview with a chaplain here.