When Traditions Are New

It started nearly ten years ago with my husband's family, this tradition that we now affectionately call Thanksmas.  Since we don't get to visit each other in December, we devote the Friday after Thanksgiving to celebrating Christmas.

Essentially, we segue from turkey and fixings on Thursday to leftover turkey and fixings on Friday, plus our gift exchange.   It's seamless.  It's festive.  It's fun.  It's convenient.  It's a true holiday mash-up.

And it completely messes with my internal calendar.  I return to work after Thanksgiving wearing a new sweater, receive a compliment, and want to say, "Thanks, I got it for Christmas," forgetting that Christmas was eleven months ago to everyone else.  I'm ready to wish people a happy New Year. 

I've been thrown for a holiday loop.

I've wondered what effect Thanksmas would have on our kids.  I once broached the subject with Joel, asking whether he thought they'd find it strange that we celebrate Christmas twice.  He looked at me as if I had grown another head.  Strange?  What kid wouldn't love two Christmases?

He had a good point.

But what about waiting eagerly for Christmas morning?  What about the anticipation when you went to bed on Christmas Eve as a child, knowing that Christmas was just one night's sleep away?  What about sneaking downstairs and hiding behind the couch while your parents, who knew you were there all along, went along with the game?  What about the tradition of rushing into your sibling's room the morning of Christmas, running down the steps together, and then dashing back upstairs to dive into your parents' bed while they burrowed under the covers just a moment longer and mumbled something about needing coffee? 

What about all that?

My friend once noted, "Your kids won't have your holiday traditions.  They'll have their own."

She's right.  All my recollections of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning -- how my brother and I collided down the narrow stairs of our Pittsburgh home every Christmas morning, how my father started the coffee, how my mom curled up on the side of the couch in her fuzzy robe -- make up the backdrop of my childhood holiday memories. 

In the same fashion, Reese, Brooke, and Kerrington are developing memories from the traditions that we're setting up now.  They're different memories from how I experienced Christmas, but ones that are just as special, ones that are uniquely theirs.

Many years from now when my girls are grown and have husbands and kids of their own, it's quite likely that they'll revert to celebrating only one Christmas.  They might call each other and ask, "Do you think our kids will find it strange that we just have one Christmas?"

Hopefully, one of them will supply the others with the same good insight I was given.  Just because it's different, doesn't make it any less significant.

Check out Then I Became a Mother: humor, hope, and encouragement for moms!  Available in both Kindle and paperback editions.  Enjoy!


  1. Hi Robin - happy Thanksmas. As you probably realize this year the lunar and solar calendars collided to provide the holiday of Thanksgivukah in the U.S. This past Thursday in addition to turkey and instead of mashed potatoes, we served potato latkes with our dinner. While all the kids and cousins had a great time, it does feel a bit like a gyp - we are used to celebrating with the whole family many times throughout the fall and winter. In any case, it provided for interesting discussion to talk about those things for which we are thankful, about miracles, and about perseverance.

  2. I think that's a cute tradition, but your friend is right. When we first got married, I had a hard time letting go of my childhood traditions. Over the years, we have had to create our own traditions and even those are still changing as others enter our family.

  3. What kid wouldn't LOVE two Christmases?! We have Christmas morning at our house, Christmas dinner at my parent's house and Boxing Day is another Christmas with the inlaws. Fortunately we all live in the same city, so even though it sounds like a lot, we're just a short drive away from one another.

    I am so nostalgic, I have so many Christmas traditions. I'm beginning to think I need to let go of some of them and just revel in the unexpected.

    Wishing you a lovely evening.


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