When it Comes to Holiday Traditions My Daydreams Didn’t Consider Reality

I had such dreams of raising my children with awesome holiday traditions that we would look forward to every year. I remember taking ideas from movies and tv shows.  Just last night Aaron and I were watching an episode from This Is Us and the father jumped from bed to start their Thanksgiving traditions. He woke each person in the house with such energy and excitement I couldn’t help but smile with him from my cozy position on the couch.  He gave each person their assignment as they came in the kitchen and everyone got to work.

In my daydreams the dining room table would be set the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It would be so eye-catching that you might have thought it was from the cover of Southern Living Magazine. The shopping trips to find the warm, textured treasures we used to decorate would have made wonderful memories in and of themselves. I didn’t consider the cost of those shopping trips or the fact that I might not even have a dining room table.

The grandmas, mothers, and children would all be cooking in the kitchen starting early on Thursday morning. I didn’t considered the budget it would take to buy all of the ingredients.

Each person would have their job and we would merrily move around the kitchen helping one another as needed. I didn’t consider the hungry baby that would take the nursing mom away, the daughter that would rather play with her dolls than help in the kitchen, the other two daughters that would argue over who got which job, the mom who would have to step away every 15 minutes to stop a fight or discipline the boys playing in the family room, or the mess that would continue piling up in the sink until it overflowed onto the counter.

All of the food would be ready at the same time and we would gather at the table to bless the meal and eat just as we were getting hungry. I didn’t consider the green bean casserole being done so early that we had to find somewhere to keep it warm, the bread burning because we rushed to get it in the oven and then forgot about it, the children asking relentlessly for snacks for 2 hours before the meal. 

After the meal everyone would retire to the family room.  The children would quietly play games and enjoy being with cousins they didn’t get to see very often. The adults would enjoy an after dinner drink and settle in for an exciting football game. I didn’t consider how quickly the kids would be hungry again or that about every 10 minutes one of them would need assistance with something. I also didn’t consider that other adults would have different visions for their Thanksgiving day and might not want to follow along with my little daydream. 

At some point in the evening we would have a family game of kickball or football. There would be roaring laughter and great competition that grew more intense every year. I didn’t consider how tired the women would be after cooking all morning, the weather not always cooperating, and the guys wanting to go shooting.

My Reality
I don’t ever get to set a beautiful dining room table for Thanksgiving. I go over my monthly grocery budget almost every month as I try to feed a family of 7. To find wiggle room for a holiday feast would be almost impossible these days. My mother-in-law does all of the planning because my sister-in-lawand I haven’t carved out that time in our busy schedules yet. I definitely don’t jump out of bed full of energy to cook all morning because I am, simply put, a tired mom.  The food always turns out delicious and is served warm but there isn’t much of a peaceful meal as we give seconds to the kids that are good eaters and count bites for the ones who aren’t. Threatening your children that they may loose dessert on Thanksgiving day was never part of my daydream. Football is something we all enjoy, it’s just regularly interrupted by the needs of the kids. And you know, while I think of it, mama guilt sneaks in here. I look forward to a relaxing afternoon of watching football with my husband and his family and yet I’m torn because I feel that we should be out creating memories with the kids. Oh, the mama guilt!!!!!!!!!!

And here we go again with Christmas!

How I Choose to Look at My Reality
Our family truly enjoys being together. Two years ago we started a new tradition of renting a home on a few acres with a fire pit, hiking trails, a pond, tire swings, a huge wrap around porch, and a beautiful view. We so look forward to being together for a few days, disconnected from ‘the real world’, playing hard and resting a lot, eating more than our fair share of delicious food, talking about life, and making unforgettable memories. We are blessed with health and I never take that for granted. The sweet traditions that have naturally evolved are awesome! Everything from the 4 little girl cousins having a dance party in the master shower which is oversized with a double shower head, to the men skeet shooting on the front property. Maybe the most important thing I have realized is that I’m not running behind or running out of time when it comes to traditions and creating memories. Just because it doesn’t look the way I thought it would, and it didn’t start the year our first child was born, doesn’t mean I have messed up or that we can’t grow into our traditions.

My encouragement to you is to be flexible with your expectations, go with the flow, and make the most of the season you are in.  There will be different traditions with each passing season of life. Some traditions will grow as the kids grow and some unexpected fun will always add to holiday memories. I love the holidays and am very thankful for our abundance of blessings, even if it doesn’t look the way I thought it would.