As the flurry of activity settles from the winter holidays and I catch my breath, I reflect on how different our family’s traditions looked in the face of a transitional season. Navigating traditions during a time of transition can feel like trying to put your makeup on without a mirror.
Even as I write this, I exhale heavily thinking about all of the changes our family went through in 2017. I won’t go into detail but there were many and many of them were big. My guess is that there’s a pretty good chance you can relate.
The transitional issues that come with geographical moves, health issues, loss of loved ones and even those life changes we expect, traditions are priceless cargo that we sometimes find challenging to maintain.
This past Thanksgiving and Christmas were, for our family, quite discombobulated. I had moved back to Texas in October from England while my husband stayed behind for work. Our two oldest kids are both married and we alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas each year with their in-laws. Our youngest daughter works full time at a restaurant making it hard to get holiday time off. My husband would fly in from England for Thanksgiving. He was excited to come since he had only slept in our new home for one night before when we purchased it earlier that summer. I’m still living out of suitcases on my closet floor from October.
As the end of 2017 drew near, to say I was tired and overwhelmed is an understatement. These new transitions, along with multiple others spread over the few months prior, left my head and heart stuck in the middle of an emotional tornado.
Holidays aren’t the same as they once were when the kids were young and at home and we had some semblance of control. And this year, with everything going on, it was obvious that some traditions wouldn’t make the cut. We knew that flexibility and creativity would be necessary. We all agreed that celebrating Thanksmas was the way to go.
In the transitional chaos all around, I knew I had to focus on one thing and let everything else take second stage. I knew I would have to focus on loving my people.
Focusing on my people would mean buying a pre-lit fake Christmas tree that can be put together in less than 10 minutes. Voila! It didn’t get decorated until after our Thanksmas celebration. And when I did decide to add some glitter, I used none of our traditional ornaments but used meaningless but pretty red, gold and silver balls.
Focusing on my people would mean everyone working together to prepare the meal. We ate very well and had SO much fun!
Focusing on my people would mean choosing not to wrap gifts, although this was an agonizing decision for me. My husband wrapped a few but with the limited time we had together, spending precious time in the “no entry” zone alone wrapping gifts wasn’t making the priority list. I offered my apologies, taped up Amazon boxes to at least maintain some element of surprise, and placed our Charlie Brown gifts under the undecorated, fake tree. Our grandson was more than delighted to be presented with all of his goodies piled in a big box with a Mickey Mouse fishing pole sticking out.
Traditions are a blessing but an unwillingness to deviate from them during transitional seasons can make them a burden.
Maybe in this coming year’s holidays, when things are a bit more settled, our traditions will become a reality again, but if they don’t, I’m okay with that.
The key to navigating traditions in a transition is to maintain a healthy focus on loving your people. (tweet this)
The people-pleasing perfectionist in me wrestles with letting traditions go. Accepting good enough is so hard for me. The tug of war between my head and my heart is real.
“Perfect is the enemy of good enough.” Adaptation of an Italian Proverb
I have to remind myself that in any season, nothing will ever be perfect and I will never go wrong when my focus is on loving my people.
Read more from this series:
Bridging Transitions – Part One by Andrea Stunz
Bridging Transitions – Part Two by Dana Herndon
Bridging Transitions – Part Three by Courtney Ellis
Bridging Transitions – Part Four by Ellie