When I was a kid, we had a few holiday traditions, but nothing like we have now. One of our favorite traditions was making candy with our mom. We also used to go Christmas shopping at different malls, usually ones that were far away where we wouldn’t normally shop. We took our annual photo on Santa’s lap and we put up our ’70s sparse and super fake tree with a few colored ornaments thrown here and there.
Our favorite tradition was putting the last ornament on the tree. My mom had a friend who made us a beautiful ornament—a hollowed out ball of sugar with a small window so we could look inside and see a plastic Baby Jesus sleeping in the manger. We loved that ornament and every year my sisters and I fought over who got to put it on the tree. That was until we got a cat who loved to climb the tree, knocked it over and killed the ornament.
As I got older, we would go see The Nutcracker downtown. I’ve tried this one with my daughter and she’s never been into it. She usually gets too antsy and complains about how bored she is. This year, my family went to see the musical White Christmas but I left my daughter at home. She didn’t mind one bit and when we came home we learned she had more fun by herself decorating the tree, drinking hot chocolate and watching TV.
There’s a lot of pressure these days to give our kids the perfect holiday filled with memories that will last a lifetime. We have so many traditions now, it’s hard to get them all done each year. Instead of making candy, we bake and decorate cookies. We still put up our tree, but it has a lot more ornaments, lights, ribbon and tinsel than it used to. My daughter was always scared of Santa, so we only have two pictures of her with him and she’s 11 years old.
Once we started our own family traditions, we made gingerbread houses and drove around to see the holiday light displays in different neighborhoods (while wearing PJs and drinking hot chocolate.) We tried leaving cookies out for Santa, but we usually forget. We also had the Elf on the Shelf, which eventually turned into two elves on the shelf.
This year we have to make new memories. This year my daughter no longer believes in Santa. We’ll continue to bake cookies, make gingerbread houses and visit light displays, but we get to hang up those elves. To ease with the transition, I found a cute letter on Pinterest to give my daughter.
She was well versed in the history of Santa, thanks to a couple Claymation Christmas specials I forced her to watch each year. My note explained how we’re all Santa, that he resides in our hearts and that it’s now her responsibility, as much as mine, to carry on the tradition and be part of the team.
Christmas is such a special time of year and while it’s hard to let some traditions go because it means our kids are getting older, some traditions I will gladly watch fall to the wayside. Goodbye elves on the shelf, I no longer have to stress about your antics or wake up in a cold sweat when I realize you forgot to move. Instead, tonight we will peacefully watch holiday movies, in our Christmas jammies, while drinking hot chocolate—because simple moments create long lasting memories as well.