“Traditions can be really important. It’s a way of bridging the past with the new year.” – Yoni Pielet
“Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.” – Susan Lieberman
I’m a big fan of tradition and ritual (which is probably why I make such a good Catholic, liberal as I am), and although the holiday season stresses me out, there are certain aspects that I enjoy – because I have good memories of seasons gone by, and now my kids’ do too.
The girls during our Walkers Go Downtown extravaganza in 2014.
When I was growing up, we always had our family Christmas on Dec. 23. That’s because sometime on Christmas Eve, we’d be loading up into the car to travel to my parents’ hometown to spend the holiday with my Dad’s side (Christmas Eve) and my Mom’s (Christmas Day). Those were great traditions, too — Santa swinging by, Grammie’s sweet pickles, cousins, noise — but it felt like the festivities had begun early for us, thanks to Mom’s insistence that Dec. 23 was ours.
Dinner could be anything – pizza, burgers, enchiladas – but we’d have our meal and open our gifts, and call my Grandma to wish her a happy birthday.
Things change as we get older, of course, and the Walker 4 tradition is to celebrate Christmas Eve with my parents and Christmas Day with Eric’s. Christmas morning is ours. A few years ago, I started a new tradition — or, I should say, I planned it once and the girls decided it was something we were going to do forever — that I called The Walkers Go Downtown. We went to dinner, walked around downtown to look at the decorations — and get the girls a book — and then hopped in the car to take a drive to find lights.
Rinse and repeat — although not always on the same day. I was surprised at how much the girls enjoyed this at first, but I think they do for the same reason I loved my family’s traditions: You can count on it happening. It might not look the same each year, but the bones are there, and it’s nice to know that some things, at least, can be counted on to stay the same.
So that’s my wish for us today.