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Making New Traditions

Posted by Sara Orellana Paape on Dec 21, 2020 3:41:10 PM

Making new traditions

I will never forget our first Christmas away from family. At the young age of 8, I was unsure what to expect or what traditions we would carry on. The uncertainty left me moody, and lacking holiday cheer. Thankfully, my mom and dad were ready. Rather than dwelling on what we did not have, or the lack of people to celebrate with, we made our own traditions. As a young child we moved often, and while I have a very large extended family, we lived away from family more often than not. 


No matter where we lived, my parents made sure we celebrated each holiday with gusto. The long conversations of planning our new traditions were perhaps more fun than the actual celebration. The traditions changed over time, continually being updated. In junior high, we would go out to eat and then drive around to see Christmas lights on Christmas Eve. For years, we voted on what we ate for Thanksgiving and always had a new movie to watch. 


I carried this tradition on with my daughter, planning new traditions over the years. As both she and I are Christmas babies, we have come to love a birthday trip more than presents. Relishing the memories throughout the years. Planning her birthday is perhaps my most favorite tradition, we laugh and giggle while making our plans. The action of creating the traditions binds us together no matter where we live.


My husband grew up much more traditionally with full Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. Even though it has been years, he still longs for the food and family. While I am content blazing our trail, creating a life for us, he anchors in the past, craving replica holidays. Over the years, he is slowly coming around and has now started talking about new traditions and new ways we can celebrate. 


Creating new traditions can be scary, there can be a feeling of loss or closure on the past. This is not at all what creating new traditions is about. In every holiday you must find a way to honor the past, to remember the old traditions while making your own. Since I can remember, we have placed a plastic deer on our Christmas tree in honor of my abuelo. We build a huge nativity and move our animals closer to the manger in honor of our Hispanic heritage. My daughter and I still do these traditions, but we do our own too. Huge STTNG fans, we read A Very Klingon Khristmas every year. The combination of our family traditions with our new traditions allows us to feel connected to the past, to honor our family, and to celebrate the family we have created.


This year, many of us will not be able to travel home for the holidays. Rather than focusing on what we cannot do, let us focus on what we can do. Create new holiday traditions. 

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