Living far from family switches up the rhythm of the holiday season. And this year, living in a new place has thrown us off our traditions even more. My family has a very full set of traditions that are followed every year. And I mostly love it--we've stuck with the things that make our Christmases memorable and meaningful and fun. This is the first year that we won't all be together on Christmas morning, and yes, well into my 30's, the first time I haven't been able to rely on my mom to play Santa.
So today, a few days before we set off on our travels, we welcomed in our own little Christmas. Last night we ended the evening together, snuggled up in PJ's, watching The Grinch and then setting out cookies. This morning we peeked in our stockings together. I passed on our traditional large breakfast, but made sure we had a favorite treat from a local bakery. We opened presents, and then played with our new toys both separately and together. And then we headed off to our church (meeting, untraditionally, in the afternoon because it is temporarily sharing space with another church) to watch and almost, almost participate in the Christmas pageant.
We were a week early, and a few people short, but I think we hit most of the traditions that matter the most to me. We had some time together as a family, sitting around in our PJ's instead of rushing around. We had food just festive enough to set the day apart. We enjoyed the magical abundance of a pile of presents. And we stepped out into our community to remember the story of Christ coming into the world.
Rhythm is such a catch word in dealing with young children--it certainly is around the blogs I follow. And I buy it, mostly. But it's also very much a part of our world to be disconnected from family and traditions. That's not necessarily good or bad, it just is the reality of the way many of us live. Traditions aren't so much about repetition, they are touchstones as we cycle through familiar seasons and stories. They aren't the same every year, no matter how much we cling to them, because every year is different--our situations are different, we are different. There's a special comfort (and, yes, pride) in finding the heart of a tradition and passing that along in a way that celebrates the new challenges each year brings.