Nothing unusual here: When I was a kid my family had our holiday traditions and I’ve carried the memories, if not the actual traditions, into my own parenting years. Sure, some I ditched.
We first lived in an apartment that didn’t allow fresh Christmas trees, my husband didn’t care for my mom’s amazing creamed spinach and I always loved seeing presents under the tree for a week, not appearing as if by magic on Christmas morning, but these were replaced with new traditions.
And when we started having kids more traditions came into the mix, some went by the wayside. We moved away from the church with the midnight Christmas eve service, we had to start hiding presents and putting them under the tree after the kids went to bed (ahh, I got it, Mom). Our tiny apartment fake tree gave way to a much larger one; we began to line the outside of our house with colored icicle lights, and after a few years of toddler proof trees our ornament collection began to expand with treasures made by the kids.
When they were tiny I would put the tree up while they took a nap, but once their fine motor skills improved, they liked to help and the kids got more and more involved with decorating for Christmas.
Our family tradition is to wait until we’re working on turkey leftovers and mourning the loss of the last of the pumpkin pie before we put up the Christmas tree. For the majority of their lives, I was the one who did the ornament box lugging, light stringing, cussing when strands wouldn’t turn on, and decorating of the tree. Sure, as they got older they would “help” but clumping all the silver balls on a few adjacent branches isn’t really my idea of helping.
But a few years ago, when the older two were in high school, something happened: they got tired of waiting for me to haul the tree out…so they did it themselves.
And they did a great job. They got along, worked as a team, shared tasks, and compromised. It was glorious.
But wait! There’s more!
On Jan. 2, they worked together again to take it all down and stash the decor for another year.
That is some fine parenting right there.
Speaking of fine parenting…
Eighteen hours. That’s how long it took for my 13-year-old son to morph from “My Siblings! I missed you!” to, “It’s better here when you’re at school, why did you come home?” when his two college-aged siblings came home for Thanksgiving break.
The 13-year-old was temporarily losing his “only child status” and the college two were losing their college independence. Nothing unusual here: Once it started, the bickering continued.
“Did you steal my charger?”
“Who left this wet towel on the bathroom floor?”
“My room is not an extension of the hallway. Get out!”
The bickering calmed down a little as the week wore on, but they were all poised to turn on each other at the slightest perceived infraction.
“Mom told you to…”
“NO! I heard her, she told you!”
This is the level of deep, intelligent conversation an expensive college education develops.
I’m so proud.