traditions: undo stress or undue stress?

It’s time for another Delicately Balancing Life confession: since having Juliet, I’ve become a little bit obsessed with creating family traditions. I had some traditions as a child and have fond memories of those and I want the same for Juliet—not necessarily the same traditions I had, but traditions of our own that she will look back on many years from now with a smile on her face.

The Holidays are prime time for tradition, starting with Halloween. We love going to a place called Apple Hill to eat apple pie, pick pumpkins and even enjoy a little beer/cider tasting at Jack Russell Brewery!

Our little pumpkin in mommy’s tummy and a year later sitting up like a big girl!

Next up is Thanksgiving, where we get up early to make breakfast and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I got to enjoy that with Juliet this year, and am delighted that she enjoyed watching the floats and dancing to the musical numbers!

Those traditions are fairly easy to pull off every year! Christmas is a whole separate beast! I figure if I start 3 traditions on her first Christmas that by her 5th Christmas, hopefully at least 2 of them will still be around!

As a child, I got to open exactly ONE present on Christmas Eve and it was ALWAYS pajamas. I got to wear them that night and woke up to unwrap all the bounty left by St. Nick decked out in my new jammies! I really wanted to keep this tradition going with our family and decided to double down on it with FAMILY JAMMIES!!!! I can hardly wait to unveil this year’s matching jammies pick on Insta! We can’t exactly keep with my “only gift on Xmas Eve is jammies” tradition because the hubby’s family does their family Christmas on Christmas Eve, but her jammies will be her grand finale gift….and she will love it….whether she wants to our not! Admittedly, I spent probably 30 minutes in Old Navy going back and forth between the Men’s, Women’s and Children’s sections to find just the right jammies only to get home and realize I didn’t have a matching set for the DOG! Finding the perfect jammies in all our sizes was no small feat, but I think I did it. I’ll let y’all be the judge on Christmas morning!

Not her “official” Christmas jammies, but how cute are these?!?!?

Another tradition in our family are ornaments…a new ornament every year, to be exact! My Grandma has given us a Swarovski crystal snowflake every year since we’ve been married. I love all 17 of those snowflakes and look forward to putting them on the tree every year! I was strategizing with my husband this past weekend about what “theme” we wanted to start for Juliet’s yearly ornaments. The OCD side of me requires themed ornaments on a tree and, since she is my daughter, I can only hope that she feels the same way about her tree when she is old enough to have her own tree. While we did not reach a conclusion on what her theme should be, my husband raised a concern about beginning this tradition: it’s a lot of pressure to have to get a new ornament each year and when she is older and we are dead, it will make her sad to unwrap all the ornaments every year. Well bah-humbug. He has a point, but I think that when we’ve been dead for 5 or so years and she’s a little less sad about it, they will bring a smile to her face reliving the memories of Christmases past…hopefully. Morbid thoughts….sorry!

Our 3rd tradition is driving around neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights singing along to our favorite Christmas tunes! Dominic the Donkey always gets played at least 5 times, because eeeee oooooo eeeee oooooo  (that’s the sound a donkey makes). We started this tradition many, many years ago with family and have kept it alive and well with our besties. We already hit a bit of a snag in this tradition this year. We had tickets to see the lights at a local church this past weekend, but there was a snafu and the church double booked events that night, so we weren’t able to enjoy their light show. We rallied and drove through a local neighborhood that is well-known for their holiday displays. Unfortunately, due to the timing, we ended up hitting this neighborhood right around Juliet’s bedtime, so she was less than thrilled with our singing and trying to get her to stare out the windows at houses. Better luck next year, I suppose!

Holiday traditions can undo stress or they can bring undue stress. After a long week, heading up to Apple Hill to enjoy a family day eating caramel apples undid a lot of stress. Conversely, after leaving work early to try to fit in our Christmas lights tradition only to have it flop brought about undue stress.

I have a bit of a reputation with my husband for building things up in my mind. I get so excited about the thought of how perfect something is going to be, that he knows I am [sometimes] setting myself up for disappointment. If you’ve seen the Christmas Vacation movie (as I’m sure everyone has), Clark Griswold has the perfect Christmas plan in mind for his family. After almost everything completely flops, his wife, Ellen says to him “It’s just that I know how you building things up in your mind, Sparky. You set standards that no family event can ever live up to.”  My husband will just look at me and say “OK, Sparky” and I know exactly what he means. It is important to maintain realistic expectations of the importance of traditions and recognize that some years they won’t all happen or, if they do, they may not be all that Sparky envisions, but that might just be the magic behind them. Life isn’t perfect but the memories we make along the way will still be cherished for years.


  1. I always enjoy reading your special thoughts. This morning I smiled a lot and had a few tears. You are a wonderful granddaughter and now Mom. Looking forward to being a part of your (our) new memories. Love Grama

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