It’s time once again for Heather from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series with Heather Johnson” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words…
For most of our families, November and December are filled with more family traditions than any other time of the year. Traditions that have been passed on through generations. Traditions that mean so much to us that we make sacrifices of money and sleep, energy and time, to make sure they happen just the right way.
You don’t mess with holiday traditions. In fact, for couples, compromising on holiday traditions brings more contention than intimacy and money. That is a lot of stress. We have to compromise on questions like, Where do we spend Christmas and Thanksgiving? How do we celebrate Christmas Eve? Do we give matching pajamas to everyone in the family? Do we open one gift on Christmas Eve, or save them all for the big day?
Don’t worry, my husband and I learned ALL about compromising on traditions. THE HARD WAY.
It was late and the kids were fast asleep. I sat down to start getting Santa’s gifts ready. I was surrounded by bags when my husband walked into the room.
“Where is the wrapping paper and I will help you”? He said.
“I would love some help, thanks”.
“Okay, so where is the wrapping paper”?
“There is a little down stairs, why”?
“To wrap the gifts.” he said.
“What gifts”. I said, concerned.
“From Santa”. He responded.
I laughed, “What? Santa doesn’t wrap his gifts”. I said.
“Yes, he does”. My husband said.
“OH. NO. HE. DOESN’T”. I said.
“OH. YES. HE. DOES”. My husband said.
And so it continued, for the next FIVE hours, into the wee hours of the morning. We went back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, and back and forth over this Christmas tradition.
Let me explain. When Santa came to my house as a child, gifts were not wrapped. They were set out by child and each of us had a special spot in the room. My gifts were on the chair, and my brother’s gifts shared the couch. The small gifts in our stockings were sometimes wrapped, but the main gifts from Santa, THEY WERE NEVER WRAPPED BECAUSE SANTA DOESN’T WRAP GIFTS.
My husband completely disagreed. In his house growing up, Santa wrapped everything.
So silly. That didn’t even make sense to me. Still doesn’t for that matter. Never the less, that was my husband’s tradition and he wanted to see it carried on to our family as badly as I wanted to see my Santa tradition carried on.
He was ruining everything. I had dreamed of the day that our kids would run down the stairs to see their gifts on display.
My husband and I don’t scream and yell at one another when we disagree, and we didn’t that night either, although we got close. Really close. I can tell you there was a lot of crying (by me), and going to bed at 4 am on Christmas Eve does not make for a very enjoyable Christmas Day.
We argued our cases and the more I cried (I mean talked) the more I realized how strongly our beliefs stemmed from our traditions growing up.
We were at a stand still. No one wanted to move. How could we, you don’t challenge Christmas Traditions. In fact, I didn’t even know I cared whether Santa wrapped his gifts or not until my husband challenged my tradition.
If we wrapped Santa’s gifts our kids would miss out on all the great Christmas memories I had growing up. I knew that what ever we choose that night would have to be the tradition forever. We couldn’t switch back and forth. Santa doesn’t change the way he does things.
That was the worst Christmas I have ever had. I woke up after only two and a half hours sleep, frustrated, hurt and still upset. I faked it all day long.
This is no way to spend the holiday’s. It taught me so much about the power of traditions. And how much they mean to all of us. These traditions and rituals mold our childhood. They are what our memories are made of.
Traditions also take a lot of work. We are all probably tired, two days before Christmas. We wonder if it is worth it, if we are doing enough, and if our kids really care. But they do. We are making memories together that will never be forgotten. It will make such an impression that they will fight to carry on the traditions when they get married.
Given that we will all probably have to compromise with someone, someday, over our holiday traditions, here are some quick suggestions on how to get in bed before 4am on Christmas Eve.