By: Sandy Churchill
Traditions can be a messy business around family and friends, because we all have different ‘sentimentality meters’ as well as perspectives on time, togetherness, and scheduling vs. spontaneity.
At our house, we often say if it doesn’t make it on the calendar, it won’t happen. That is not to say we don’t sometimes rally at a moment’s notice to do something fun or embrace an afternoon adventure. But to be sure, if we wistfully utter a, “we should do that sometime…” or “that’s a great idea…” the wonderful idea or adventure is likely to sink into the abyss of ‘maybes’ or ‘we’ll sees…’ that never materialize.
Because our home has undergone many phases-of-life changes with one daughter married and another recently moved out in the past few months, we are in a state of flux on many family traditions. My married daughter juggled time with in-laws at Christmas this year, in addition to time with friends and our family. That meant we adapted our ‘unified’ family get-togethers to involve small groups here and there so everybody got to see family but not feel pressured to be all in the same place for one giant event.
Simply the time demands of adult work schedules have changed the way we tackle family dinners, as well as holidays. Instead of mourning the quiet times or less-frequent get-togethers, we are embracing new traditions, and the new year seemed a perfect time to start fresh.
Our annual practice of filling bunter tellers—German Christmas plates of candies and fruits—became a tradition shifted to “Little Christmas”—January 6, this year, because we had out-of-state family staying with us for the week after Christmas and our days were hectic. This year, we had to be flexible and continue the tradition (even without some of our hand-crafted plates—since they were buried in the attic and didn’t make it down this year). Nonetheless, seven of us gathered for our annual jaunt to the candy store to choose surprise treats for every other family member. The sweets are a special tribute to our German heritage, where the bunter teller is the much-anticipated gift given on Christmas eve.
Another new tradition is the creation of Sunday dinner—once a month as a start.
While every week would be lovely, each of us has different work schedules, plus church, scouting, and other activities. So we are starting small with a once-a-month plan to be logged on the calendar. To ease the stress, we are rotating locations between our house and my daughter’s, and embarking on a potluck practice, so no one feels overwhelmed. After all, the food isn’t really the point; it’s the family time and conversation at the heart of it all.
Other traditions might include occasional camping weekends, our annual jaunt to a game conference, and frequent neighborhood walks and hikes with whoever is up for an adventure. Who knows what other traditions will follow suit?
So we are starting 2019 with gratitude for family memories, and a hopeful spirit to embrace new traditions ahead!