Rewrapping Christmas: Establishing New Traditions

What are some of your favorite memories from the holidays growing up? Did your family have traditions that you looked forward to every year? Maybe it was a special dessert, a fun activity, or a certain event.


Growing up, the smell of cookies baking would take the edge off those frigid days and signaled the coming of Christmas. Mom would go into baking mode the weeks before Christmas and would bake so many different varieties of Christmas cookies that were to be brought out on Christmas day. Each of us had our own favorites that we would sneak from the freezer. Mom must have made extra to accommodate for this, because we always seemed to have more than enough for Christmas. In addition to this, we would have a special coffee cake that she made for Christmas morning.

It may sound silly, but when we found out that our youngest son was allergic to all food except sweet potato, I really went through a grieving process during the holidays. It was such a huge part of what I looked forward to each year. Celebrating Christmas was synonymous with having scrumptious smells wafting around you like a warm blanket, inviting you into a sense of peace, comfort and safety. The most challenging decision being which cookie to eat next and leaving you with anticipation over the meals to come. I missed this. Christmas no longer felt like Christmas.

Each of us have those things that make the holidays feel special. Many of us have had to give up those things due to the needs of a child, and that is okay—we would do it again in a heartbeat—but giving up those traditions can leave us in a little bit of a funk. It is also okay to miss those things. Don’t feel guilty about it.

So what can you do if you find yourself in a little bit of a holiday funk this year?

- Acknowledge it to yourself. Don’t pretend that everything is okay or put yourself down for struggling with the new normal.
- If married, share about it with your spouse. Odds are they are struggling to some degree as well. If not married, find a friend you can talk to over a peppermint latte or other favorite holiday beverage.
- Dare to dream. What new traditions can you build? Initially they may feel forced, but eventually you and your family will look forward to them with eager anticipation.

Our family now enjoys unwrapping a new pair of Christmas Pajamas and watching “Elf” on Christmas Eve. As I sit here with my cup of coffee, healing has taken place and I can fondly reflect on the memories from Christmases gone by and look forward with anticipation to the Christmases yet ahead.

We would love to hear from you. What does your family do to make Christmas special?