Colored lights and hot chocolate are all signs that the holidays are near. In my family, it wasn’t truly the season to be jolly until we decked the halls with our Christmas tree. Choosing the right tree felt as momentous as meeting a new best friend. Now that I’m an adult with my own family, I long to create similar traditions that will make our holidays just as memorable.
The woodsy scent of pine transports me back to when my only goal was to own the Millennium Falcon, and picking out our Christmas tree together was just as magical as the Star Wars ship I hoped would be placed under it. The smell of pine is forever intertwined with my family memories, and I’d love for my son to experience this same thread of magical consistency throughout his life.
At first, I wasn’t sure how to go about crafting family traditions. I wondered how other families built their own. Local mom Emma Johnson, mother of three, followed her parents’ example and passed on some of her own childhood customs. “When I was little, we started the Christmas season with our Advent calendars, and now they’re delivered by my mom each and every year. We all love them!”
Like Emma, it felt like a solid start to include my husband and son in picking out a tree with all of us original tree-picking members. It was a wonderful way to share my childhood with my child. Still, I wanted to add events that my husband, young son, and I could claim as our own.
Abby Malone, mother to 7-year-old twins, has blended the old with the new when it comes to family traditions. Abby shares that some of their new favorites include going to the Lights Under Louisville. “We’ve done that every year since the twins were babies.” She’s also added her own inspired idea: “I make the kids and myself matching pajamas. We’re not allowed to wear them until Christmas Eve, and then we sleep in them and wake up in our matching PJs.”
As much as I want to create a holiday with meaning (and possibly matching PJs), once the season truly swings into high gear, I wonder if traditions are worth maintaining. The rush of our holiday schedule takes on its own momentum, and trying to find time for life’s nuances is as hard as locating the clear tape for wrapping presents. Then I catch a whiff of pine and wonder why I ever considered ditching our family traditions in the first place.
I’m always on the lookout for new ways to imbue the holidays with meaning, and trying out new activities is the best way to find out what feels right. Emma says, “I think we will continue to add traditions as the kids grow. We’ll find our way to make the day uniquely our own while honoring the traditions my parents created to make us feel special.”
There are many different ways that holiday rituals evolve and take shape. Last year, my family started leaving extra coins for mall-goers to grab a free sweet treat from the candy dispenser. Perhaps this is one of those things that will stick. I know memories like these will connect my kid back to us later in his life, and that’s why these little evolving traditions are the true magic of the season. It’s simple moments like these that make memories that last a lifetime.