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When Will I Ever Get to Start My Own Holiday Traditions?

Photograph by Twenty20

As a person who despised change, I was pretty happy growing up knowing what to expect for family traditions. There’s a certain comfort in knowing what’s coming. Even after I moved out of my parents’ house, with my now husband in my early 20s, we’ve spent almost every holiday with my family for the past 14 years.

That was just fine for a long time—especially during the years we spent trying to start our own family. I thought the holidays would be lonely, just being the two of us, and didn’t feel like celebrating Christmas in the silence of our own house while we waited to fill it with kids.

Fast-forward a few years, when our daughter finally came. All of a sudden, family events and traditions seemed a bit more complicated. She was born a week before Thanksgiving and the holidays following were a blur, as we carted my aching C-section incision and her car seat carrier from house to house, maintaining the status quo even though everything in my life had forever changed.

When she got a little older, my husband and I struggled with secretly wanting to start our own traditions, but we continued to be held by my family’s traditions—and the two definitely competed with each other through the next few years. We would have an egg hunt for our toddling daughter in our house for Easter (quickly, because we were due at a grandparent’s in a few hours), only to have a second egg hunt for her at my parents' later on.

But sometimes it feels our desires are overshadowed by what was always done.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful there's a lot of love to go around and her grandparents want to continue their traditions with their grandkids. But sometimes it feels our desires are overshadowed by what was always done.

I want to keep a lot of the traditions I had as a child, but I want to be the one to give them to her. I want to have some downtime during the Christmas celebrations to start something new, something meant for only my immediate family. That’s hard for me to do when I don’t want to hurt feelings and thwart time with grandparents.

The truth is, our holiday season in December is chock-full of what we’ve always done as kids—spending time with my parents and extended family—and there’s no time for myself to do something new with my husband and daughter. She’s still young, and I know traditions can be born at anytime, but it’s going to be hard to break away from the old traditions. Especially coming from a close-knit family where every holiday is celebrated together, and always has been.

I need to find the place where the old can merge with the new and create something that works for my little family. It just might take some time to get there.

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