My childhood was filled with traditions. Growing up, all 9 of my mom’s brothers and sisters lived within 30 miles of us, so we had more than enough to do during the holidays.
For example, around 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve, we would bring our gifts and pile them under my grandmother’s big tree. You could count on the air being filled with the scent of my Auntie Deborah’s famous nachos, and it was a guarantee that my cousins, brother and I would ask “is it time to open presents?” a million times as we waited impatiently for my Auntie Jean to finish Mass – she was always late.
My favorite childhood memories include being with relatives. Now I’m married with a child of my own, but I don’t always get to see them since we live 14 hours away. Last year, I decided I would work harder to establish traditions my son could enjoy despite being far from home. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a good first try. To celebrate his first Thanksgiving, my husband cooked a turkey for the first time, we watched tv as a family, and we ended the night by Skyping relatives.
Starting your own traditions is hard – especially when you’re far away. Here are a few things to keep in mind that might make things easier.
Understand that your baby knows no different
At first, I put pressure on myself to replicate my family’s traditions because I felt my son deserved it, but I forgot that he doesn’t have anything to compare it to – he’s only a year and a half. Truthfully, young children just enjoy spending time with their families. My son doesn’t care if he has a million presents because we’ve never set that expectation. Whatever we establish will be his normal that he will grow to love.
Remember your favorite parts
Remembering the things you enjoyed from childhood can help with creating holidays that your children will appreciate. For a long time, nachos were my favorite food because I associated them with the love and generosity of my aunt. Christmas songs are my favorite music because they remind me of family togetherness and gift-giving. Similarly, board games remind me of late night laughs and fun. Remembering what brought you joy will help with making memories for the next generation.
As with all things, the holidays were not all good. It’s equally important also to remember what traditions you want to leave behind.
Be open and flexible
Growing up, there was pressure to be perfect – and that made holidays stressful. The strict routine we stuck to was frustrating and caused us to miss out lots fun things that didn’t fit into the schedule. The most important part of the holidays is spending time together and making memories. These memories will grow to mean more than who made the best cake.
Through each holiday, I aim to teach my son that as long as the love stays the same, the traditions are flexible.
As a new parent, creating new memories can be scary, but it’s worth it With each holiday, I hope to teach my son a message of love that reflect the values that we hold as a family. We have one-and-a-half years down, and decades more to go.
About the author:
Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez is a writer who specializes in sociology, health, and parenting. Her work has appeared in Healthline, Yes! Magazine, HuffPost, Allure, and many other publications. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or check out her website.