New traditions for Christmas and HanukkahAs we head towards the end of December, my family, like so many others, is in a very peculiar situation.

When my husband, Howard  (who is Jewish) and I (brought up Christian) got married, we agreed that we would be away for Christmas every year.

I didn’t have to have a Christmas tree in my home but I also couldn’t imagine to be home and pretending it was any other day. I don’t love Christmas for religious reasons; I love it for the traditions and family gatherings I experienced growing up in Austria.

So we made this agreement that we would go somewhere warm for the Christmas holidays.  This will be the first year that we will be home in Toronto, with our daughters at Christmas time. We realized that we were in unfamiliar territory.

New Family Traditions

A while ago, I sat down with my family and told them I was sad about missing our own “away Christmas” traditions. I told them that I struggle with winter as it is, and that this year was going to be difficult for me.  I wanted us to have time together and we needed to create a brand new holiday tradition for our family, so we had something to look forward to.

  • New traditions of matching pajamasI committed to replicating the Christmas cookies my mom used to make for us when I was little. I have all her recipes but have never tried to make them until this year.
  • My husband volunteered to look after a “tree/bush” that is white with white and blue lights which we also used for our Chanukah celebration.
  • My daughter Hannah excitedly volunteered to find us matching pyjamas, something she has always wanted us do.
  • My daughter Katie volunteered to look after the Christmas Eve menu which will entail Austrian Schnitzel with mashed potatoes.

Howie also thought that it would be great to watch our wedding video that night so we can see my parents and Howie’s mom who are no longer with us.

Creating Memories

In the end it wasn’t WHAT we decided to do, it was HOW we approached the situation.  We were able to find a sense of control over our situation by actively planning for the change in our circumstances.  By taking action and being open about our feelings (me) and our wishes (all of us), we were able to work together to create experiences that met our needs.

I hope that you are able to create special memories with your families this holiday season and that you enter 2021 recharged and ready for a brighter year, full of excitement and adventure.