I am a big supporter of traditions. My Mom did an amazing job of having all sorts of fun things to look forward to at various times of year. One of my favorites was our first day of school tradition. When our first day ended, we would return home to the delicious smell of homemade chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven. Those chocolate chip cookies were amazing. My Mom used the Nestle Toll House recipe. However, she must have added a heavy dose of Love in there, as they never taste as good when I try to replicate them. Regardless of my abilities, I make chocolate chip cookies for my girls every year for their first day of school.
Another tradition that has been carried on in our home due to it’s memorable role in my childhood is my Mom’s Halloween Sugar Cookies. I still have the cookie cutter she used. It’s such a pain to use since it’s not just an outline cut-out. It’s a cookie cutter that pushes in a darling little pumpkin face, which then gets covered up by frosting. It’s such a shame that nobody can see the detail of the cutout, but I still use it because my Mom did. I also still use raisins to make the Jack-o-Lantern face since that’s what my Mom used. Even though most people prefer and suggest that I use chocolate chips instead, I stick with tradition. I really am painfully loyal to the tradition.
That all being said, I think it’s important that we reevaluate the traditions we carry on in our lives. I make my Mom’s sugar cookies using her cutout for half of the batch and then finish the dough off making cookies that are smaller and easier to produce. I honor the tradition but I also strive to prevent the tradition from overwhelming me to the point of unnecessary stress.
Sometimes we risk traditions losing their meaning when we get carried away with them. I’m not sure who is to blame for this epidemic of quantity and perfection over meaning and reflection when it comes to traditions. My guess would be that Pinterest had a hand in it. While I am a supporter of Pinterest, I fear many women feel this need to do every tradition, craft, and holiday treat posted on there. I often become a victim myself. I almost have to avoid Pinterest completely during the holidays to protect myself from feeling like a failure of a Mom for not doing Elf on a Shelf, the Advent Calendar, Gingerbread Houses, homemade Christmas ornaments, Secret Santa, Caroling, the 12 Days of Christmas, and the like in the course of 25 days. I love traditions, especially the Christmas ones, but sometimes I feel like we overdo it and lose the spirit of the season or tradition.
Let me reiterate that I truly cherish traditions. I baked the Halloween cookies, we took the kids to a real Pumpkin Patch (a first for me), we carved pumpkins, and we’ll be dining on chili, cornbread, and hot dogs tomorrow evening, per tradition. I love providing meaningful traditions for my children.
But I wanted to remind readers, and myself, that we don’t have to do it all to prove ourselves in anyway. Sometimes beginning involves minimizing and being okay with ourselves for knowing our limits. I think Elf on a Shelf is a darling idea, but if I add that to my list of traditions, my children are going to wake up to one angry elf everyday in December.
As we continue through this fun holiday season, remember it’s okay to have your child come home with 20+ holiday goodie bags that other Moms made for the class when your accomplishment for the day consisted of getting your child to school with a warm jacket on. Embrace the traditions that have real meaning to you and your family. Begin letting go of the excess and treasure the simple traditions that beget warm memories rather than stress.