New traditions are good, too

Originally posted at:
http://damagedcalm.wordpress.com


The holidays are all about tradition in my family. We visit one grandmother at one very specific time and the other side of the family at another. We eat the same dinner, play the same games, exchange the same gifts, tell the same stories. There’s something comforting about going into an evening knowing exactly what to expect, I suppose. But what happens when time or distance or circumstances threatens these traditional activities?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gratitude. It’s so easy to get all focus-y on what we don’t have… the things we think we need to be happy. But if I have learned anything over the last couple of years, it’s that everything is relative. When my washing machine leaks and I have to clean up icky water from the laundry room floor, I remind myself that last Christmas, I didn’t have my own laundry room. When J says or does something that inadvertently hurts my feelings, I remind myself that two years ago,  I didn’t even know him. And when I think about all the commitments we’ve made for the upcoming Christmas weekend, and start to stress about running from point A to point B to point C to… well, you get the idea… I remind myself that J and I didn’t get to spend much of last Christmas together.

My family didn’t exactly embrace our relationship in the beginning… neither did his. The details of all that are irrelevant now as everything is worked out and we are each part of the other’s family but it made for a difficult Christmas. I wanted him to share in all the family traditions that seemed so important at the time but it couldn’t happen. I let myself get so frustrated and down about it and then… it snowed. We live in the deep, deep south and I don’t recall ever seeing snow on the ground on Christmas day before. It changed everything for me. This beautiful white blanket of pure joy completely covered the ground, the rooftops, the cars — everything. I felt the shift in my thinking as I stared out the window at our white Christmas and I knew we had to start our own tradition.

And that’s exactly what we did. We bundled up in the warmest coats and scarves we could find and we drove the short distance to the park we went to on our first date. We trudged through the wet snow and dusted off the bench we had sat on together that night. Our teeth may have chattered a bit and our rear ends were probably a little soggy when we stood up, but looking into his eyes in that moment, I remembered what was really important. I remembered the cherry blossoms tattooed on my left shoulder and that they are meant to signify new beginnings. We promised to do everything in our power to return to that spot every Christmas… and to someday bring our kids along and tell them the story of how Mommy and Daddy loved each other so much that it snowed. On Christmas. In Alabama.

Some day our parents will be gone and someday even sooner, our grandparents will be too. We are 300 miles from J’s mom and my family now and, while we are definitely going home for Christmas this year, we might not always be able to make the trip. And so, we’ll start one more new tradition this year, in our new home in this new town.

Just in case.

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