2020 has been anything but an ordinary year, and the holiday season has turned out to be no exception. Many of us have had to stay away from loved one to avoid getting them sick. Travel plans have been canceled or postponed. Holiday festivals and parades were canceled. Even visiting Santa was a different experience this year. Since this was a year to do everything differently, not necessarily by our choice, it’s no wonder that holiday traditions have been pulverized.
In our family, the annual holiday parade in Jeffersonville has always kicked off our Christmas holiday. The parade traditionally takes place the evening after Thanksgiving and features many decorated firetrucks and floats depicting the nativity or various winter scenes, including Christmas trees, snowmen, and Santa himself. More candy is thrown and distributed during this parade that an entire day of trick-or-treating. There’s a bake sale, hot cocoa, local shops hold sales, and a visit with the big man himself (Santa, not Jesus) at the firehouse after the parade. My son has even been in the announcing booth during the parade with local big personalities. Unfortunately, the annual parade was canceled this year, even though others were allowed to take place.
Additionally, Christmas Eve mass was impossible this year. Nothing puts you in the real holiday spirit like attending a well done Christmas mass. St. John’s in Honesdale has been our place for years. A beautiful church with an amazing nativity scene, in tune children’s choir, and packed pews will set the mood for any family. Traditionally, my husband and I always took my son out to dinner after mass. We would fill up on pizza or pasta and wine (milk for our son) and then get home quickly before the NORAD Santa Tracker had Santa flying over our house.
With the cancelation of the local holiday parade, Thanksgiving just seemed to blend into Christmas this year. But we have gotten used to operating out of the ordinary this year, and I can’t say that it has been a good thing. Limited acceptable access to family, close friends, local events, and schooling has taken a toll, even Christmas Eve mass was impossible. We haven’t been able to visit family or travel as we had planned, no Christmas concert or elementary play at school, no kids birthday parties, no secret Santa exchanges, and no celebrations in the classroom. Sounds really dull, right?
Even though my husband and I did our best to make the Christmas season as memorable and traditional as possible for our 8-year old son, it was noticeably not the same. We didn’t have our annual holiday party, which took place after our son’s birthday party. We didn’t get to host some of our family members that came to spend some time with us after Christmas and before New Years. We couldn’t listen to our son help announce the floats and trucks at the holiday parade (a sense of pride for us). However, I made sure that we hit all of the regular traditions at home. I may have even made a few up. My son and I made cookies, built a gingerbread house, wrapped gifts and listened to Christmas music, visited Santa, and started each morning with some kind of Christmas movie (the favorite this year seemed to be Disney’s Prep and Landing).
So, is it best to stick with tradition this year or to forgo tradition? You can argue that tradition during the holidays provides routine and consistency, which seems to be lacking this year. Many times, holiday spirit relies, even depends, on tradition. No matter what it is. When I was a kid, we always celebrated Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house. Food, presents, and a house full of relatives has been imprinted on my mind as the epitome of Christmas. All other Christmases have been scored on the scale that grandma has set, not that I have even come close to it. When that ended, I felt lost during the holidays. Nothing seemed to get me into the spirit. Not until I found my own family traditions, and could not live without them. Elegant Christmas Eve party and ornately wrapped gifts have given way to Christmas Eve at a local pizzeria/Italian restaurant and Christmas Day morning gifts under our family’s Christmas tree.
I guess what I’m saying is that while tradition is wonderful and needed, it’s not everything. As long as there is love in your household, and there is happiness when you see your friends and loved ones, 2020 may be the year to create new traditions. While I plan to attend the 2020 holiday parade in town and get to Christmas Eve mass next Christmas, I am happy to let go of the traditions that have easily lifted out of our lives this year.
What do you all think? Are you happy to let go of tradition this year or were you devastated when you could have all of your traditions?