I am a huge fan of tradition. Actually, that might be an understatement. Let's try again.
I am whore for tradition. Nope, a little too much. One more go.
I am a Tradition Nazi. Non-PC, but doesn't imply the exchange of sexual favors for tradition. Perfect.
According to my dad, I should logically be a Republican; I dislike change and will do anything to uphold traditions. It doesn't quite work that way, but I get what he meant. Traditions are part of my DNA, and my love of them helps make me who I am. Mess with that and... well, we'll just say the outcome is undesirable.
Christmas, of course, is a time chock-full of tradition. It's not my favorite holiday (Halloween FTW, obviously), but the parts of it that I love, I really love. And those parts all consist of traditions. Like, my favorite meal of the year is Christmas Eve dinner. My mom always makes prime rib and I always eat too much of it. (Seriously, even the 5 years I was a vegetarian, I still ate prime rib on Christmas Eve. My body HATED it, but it was so worth the pain.) A tangential "tradition" is my dad making some joke about how Mom's making filets or turkey or something this year, and would that be alright with me? It doesn't phase me anymore, but as a kid, I would legitimately get upset thinking my traditional meal was being mucked up.
I grew up with a plethora of traditions surrounding Christmas. Like decorating the tree the day after Thanksgiving with my 'sister' and playing the ornament game. Picking out our family tree from the lot. Baking cookies with my mom, singing along with John Denver & The Muppets. Playing games with my family on Christmas day. Going to the Jewish deli the day after Christmas to exchange gifts with my sister. So many traditions, so many memories.
As often happens in life, though, circumstances change and, as a result, traditions change. Or end. I don't live next door to my sister anymore. And I don't live with my parents. And the deli is closed now.
So new traditions are created! Especially when one starts her own family. And that's what we were - a family. Me, my husband, and the dog(s). We picked out our own Christmas tree at the same lot every year. I decorated during the day and hid certain ornaments for my husband to find. There were 3 Christmases - one with his mom's family, one with his dad's family, and one with my family. Those became my new traditions, the things I came to associate with my holiday season.
Two years ago, those traditions came to a pretty abrupt stop. I had no tree. Decorations largely stayed boxed up. I only had one Christmas. It was difficult, but I still held on to hope and that got me through (along with the support of my friends and family). Last year, there was renewed hope and a few traditions tried to make a comeback. I decorated a bit, and I was invited to, but didn't attend, a second Christmas. But the possibilities for even more to be restored in the future sustained me.
This year, it's just me and the dogs. The only decorating I've done is re-doing my Halloween tree with Nightmare Before Christmas ornaments. While I'm looking forward to the traditions to be shared with my family (I can't WAIT for prime rib!), I don't really have any that are just for me. My traditions tend to be based around other people because I like doing things for those that I love and hold dear.
And that hope for a future to reestablish my traditions, the hope that propped me up through the last two holiday seasons... doesn't exist anymore. I don't mean that to sound despondent, it's just a matter of fact. As happened with others along the way, the traditions I was holding onto, that I was hoping to resurrect, are now over.
Now... now it's once again time for new traditions. I need traditions to uphold for myself, regardless of who or what comes or goes from my life. That sense of tradition, of some kind of routine or constant, is important in helping me realize the holiday spirit. It doesn't have to be big or flashy. Maybe I'll start a tradition of wrapping presents while listening to my offbeat Christmas playlist. Maybe I'll spend the weekend before Christmas having a movie marathon of some sort while cuddling with the dogs. Or maybe I'll get myself something off of one of my wishlists, just for the hell of it!
Why? Because I like doing things for those I love... and I love myself. 💚