Creating new holiday traditions
Even though I’m not a religious person, the holidays still hold some magic. Maybe it’s because, regardless of my beliefs, they have symbolically become a time for family. People travel from far and wide to visit, to be generous and loving and to spend time with family.
Several years ago after my husband and I were married, we made a rather epic cross-country move from Alberta to Nova Scotia. The move put a real wrench into our holidays, since as much as people like to get together during the holiday season, it’s also a dreadful, expensive time to travel. During our first year alone, we were so unprepared for the holidays that we ended up foraging for dinner at the gas station because everything was closed. It was lonely, and a bit depressing.
After that holiday fail, we decided that if we weren’t going to make a yearly journey back to Alberta, we needed to do something else, something special to celebrate the holidays. The next year, we rented a cottage on the ocean and a new tradition was born. Since we now lived by the sea, why not incorporate a little salt air into our holiday plans. Now, Christmas Day always includes a trip to the beach, something that wasn’t possible growing up on the prairies.
We also started to hold an annual Christmas party with our friends (since that’s the closest thing we have to family here) and we ask everyone to bring an ornament for our tree. One year, we even hosted an ornament decorating party, nothing beats heartfelt, friend-made tree decorations. These have become lovely traditions and great ways to feel that togetherness and holiday cheer.
Fast forward to this Christmas past, which was the first year with our daughter. Having a new addition made being away from family even harder. So, we thought about the things we could do to make Christmas feel special and we decided on festive video chatting, as in “Happy Skype-mas!” On Christmas Eve, we had a group Skype with our immediate families, enjoying our little celebration as best we could via the internet. We opened presents, sipped eggnog and reminisced. While it wasn’t the same as being there in person, it did allow everyone to feel more included in each other’s lives and now we have a fun little tradition to look forward to.
New holiday traditions have rekindled the holiday magic, despite being far away from loved ones. Now, as our own family grows, we can continue to build upon these traditions and stay connected to our parents and siblings in creative ways. I’d love to hear about your holiday traditions and ways you stay connected to family members who are away during the holiday season.