Maintaining, re-creating and even inventing new traditions is hard work on a blended family. Whether or not to carry on a tradition from a previous marriage – for the sake of the children , or to throw caution to the wind and start all over again is a question we asked ourselves. For us, there was one tradition that took no consideration as even as adults we enjoyed it as much as the children.
Every year the kids know they get a special set of pajamas and a special pair of slippers that can’t be opened or worn until our special night a week or so before Christmas. This particular tradition comes from my side, something I have done with my children since they were born. Which of course begs the question who is it really for, right? My youngest was a just a baby and it started because she simply wouldn’t sleep, and I was exhausted. My husband at the time loaded us into the car, pajamas, slippers and all and we went for a late-night drive. On our search for something exciting, while trying to get little miss to fall asleep – we came across beautiful Christmas lights. There were these two streets which came together and would put on an elaborate production of animated lawn ornaments and lights that led from one house to the next. The lawns were all lined in white bulb lights and every house had its own theme, yet still maintained the uniform flow. One stop for some hot cocoa later, and we had a tradition on our hands.
Over the years those nights came complete with diaper blowouts – being cleaned up along the side of the road. Vomit filled back seats when hot cocoa and our son didn’t mix; and of course some pretty great nights of looking at the most beautiful lights. One night a year we could peek into the life of a complete stranger, imagining what their life might be like, or how it would feel to live in a big home like the ones we visited. Homes that even if on the inside were broken, the lighting and theatrics would work as a beautiful cover-up.
As our marriage diminished, the children needed that tradition, that piece of normalcy – a gentle reminder that somethings do stay the same. Possibly even doubling the occurrence, which in this tradition it did, since now both myself and my ex-husband did them separately.
Now six years later we have both re-married and carried on this tradition ( minus the divorcing of course) to our new spouses and children. The kids still get just as excited picking out the special set of pajamas and slippers, and help with getting their younger siblings equally excited. They still get ready for bed every night close to christmas just waiting for one of us to say tonight is the night – go get your pajamas on. The only difference really is that our daughter likes chai instead of hot cocoa – but the rest is pretty magical every time.
Thinking back now, it is a pretty great realization to see that traditions can take form in any manner, not just from great-grandparents, which seems to be the norm. They can be passed down from friends, family, previous relationships whatever your heart and home are open to.
What tradition did you come about non-traditionally in your home?