Here’s What Happened When I Let Go of Family Traditions

Natalie Romero December 19, 2017
Family Traditions_feature

The months from September to December are without a doubt my favourite time of the year.

It starts with birthday celebrations—three to be exact—and ends with the whole Christmas/New Year’s celebrations.

I’m a sucker for tradition.

Birthday weekends away in lieu of a party, farm trips, apple picking, fall hikes, anniversary dinners and brunches with Santa—we have our routine and I love it. It’s kind of my jam.

But, at the same time, things are changing. My kids are getting older and all the traditions are inevitably morphing into something new and my heart is breaking just a little.

Those fall farm trips aren’t the same anymore. I see the looks on other parents’ faces as my kids chase each other through the hay maze and narrowly miss their adorable toddler posing for the obligatory photo sitting on a hay bale. The tractor rides don’t hold the same excitement for them and they refuse to pose amongst the pumpkins for a photo even when I tell them that I want a nice one for our family Christmas card.

Finding time for fall hikes has become difficult. They have to be squeezed in between hockey games and choir practice. I’m not great with change. I like things to stay the same. I struggle with anxiety and knowing what’s coming next and maintaining some sort of control of what is happening in my life makes it a little easier for me.

So I struggle. I want things to stay the same, so I find myself forcing things that just don’t fit our family anymore.

We wait in line for Santa photos even though my kids can barely fit on his knee anymore. I insist on watching The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and am sorely disappointed when they want to watch the live action version instead of the cartoon version. I don’t try to hide my tears when my kids declare they are too old for cartoons.

This fall was the first year that we didn’t go apple picking. My husband was quietly happy about it, not understanding why I was so upset. “This is our thing” I cried. “We go every year!”

I thought no one else noticed until one day, at the dinner table, my son asked “When are we going apple picking?” and when I said that we missed the apple picking time he replied with a “Whhaaat???” He was genuinely upset that we missed our annual day apple picking trip with friends. I shot my husband a death stare.

In that moment, I realized that it’s not just me who looks forward to our family outings, my kids love our traditions. They are growing up, that’s inevitable, but spending time together as a family is still just as important to them now as it has always been.

Our traditions are changing but that doesn’t mean they have to stop entirely. We can still enjoy our trips to the farm and brunches with Santa—they will just be slightly different. In fact, they might even be better. I don’t have to follow my kids around anymore, making sure they don’t fall off slides or stick their hands in the horse’s mouth. We still enjoy our movie nights but we don’t have to start at 6pm to make bedtime and we can watch something other than Tangled. I love that we can watch real movies now instead of the same cartoon week after week.

Having children is helping me learn to be more flexible. I’m learning that change isn’t always bad. Sometimes when life throws a change at you, it makes room for something new.

The traditions that we have built as a family mean something. They have set a foundation for my kids. Hopefully these memories will stay with them and will continue to grow right alongside them.

To be honest, I can’t wait to see what new traditions we build as a family in the years to come.

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