Growing up in a military household, there were two things we always knew: no matter where we went, we would always have each other and we could look forward to family traditions every year. I don’t know if this small bit of consistency is what warms my heart to the traditions I have grown up with or if I really just do not like change, but I spend each year looking forward to those things that have remained the same no matter where we are or what we are doing. The holiday season provides a great reminder of the memories made through these traditions.
In my family, celebrating Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving. That Thursday is filled with food, parades, football, and family time. I wake up almost as excited as Christmas morning, with food being the present I cannot wait to unwrap. When eating and napping can finally last no longer, I awake on Black Friday ready for Christmas, though it’s a month away. We may shop a bit that morning, but most of the day will be spent gathering decorations from the crawl space and unpacking the memories of previous years.
Thanksgiving leftovers keep us satisfied, as we top of the day with decorating the tree. The rest of December is spent having family visit, going to Christmas parties, spending time with friends, and making Christmas cookies. Some of these traditions have seemed so important that it wouldn’t seem like Christmas without them.
But things change.
As the years have gone by, we’ve gotten older. My brother and I are now in college and working, making it hard to get back home. At home, the younger siblings have their own friends and lives that they are only there some of the time we are. Mom and Dad will make plans without us, since they have also seemed to find their own group of friends. Things have changed.
And it’s good.
No, coming home for the holidays isn’t as easy as it used to be. And yes, your family does go on with its life while you aren’t there. The greatest lesson that I have learned through this time of transition, though, is that traditions are valuable. They can make everything seem alright, when it’s all going wrong. They give you memories to hold on to as everyone grows older. Traditions give you something to look forward to each and every year.
Traditions aren’t everything. It isn’t about what you do or don’t do that makes something special. It’s the people that you spend it with. The people who FaceTime you in when you can’t make it home. And it’s about the reason that you’re celebrating in the first place. I’m still going to look forward to the day we spend making Christmas cookies, but if all I see are pictures, I will still cherish the memory. The value of tradition is this: that you realize what and who you truly value and hold on to the memories that you have created.
Shelby is a Senior Elementary Education major with a Spanish minor. She works as a barista and spends mornings in a 2nd grade class as a student teacher. As an Air Force brat, she has moved all around the United States and traveled to several other countries. In her free time, Shelby loves spending time with her family, adventuring with her boyfriend, and making memories with her friends. In every area of her life, God comes first, although she has to remind herself to trust Him in every situation. Through writing, Shelby hopes to show people the great grace of her Savior and how to live life to the fullest.