With the holidays just the corner some traditions are outgrown while others become as stale as last year's fruitcake. Since traditions are handed down from year to year, we often forget how they came to be in the first place, and ignore the opportunity to launch our own traditions. Heed the following advice if you're looking for help on how to change things up this year, whether by choice or necessity.
No need to apologize. Don't ask for permission to break free from a family ceremony. If you are interested in doing something new this year, politely let everyone know well in advance.
Create your own dish. When attempting to start your own tradition, come up with a new "traditional" meal that you may serve each holiday that everyone grows to identify with your home. Choose something brand new that has never been served before and improve on it each year. Pick a few signature cookies that you want the family to enjoy and remember you by each time they eat them. One of my favorite cookies is a "Margaret Cookie" named after a neighbor of my mother's when she was growing up. I love hearing the story about how the "Margaret Cookie" came to be.
Don't expect everything to stay the same. Part of good parenting is raising your child to be a responsible, independent adult. If you've done your job well, they will one day leave the nest and start a family of their own. The greatest gift you can give your adult child is the freedom of choice to choose "what" and "where" they spend their holiday.
Continue to enjoy your traditions, regardless of who is present. If you enjoy making traditional meatball soup on New Year's Day, don't stop because your daughter or son won't be there to enjoy it with you. Do it anyways and you will feel better.
Start a new tradition. For example, gathering together with the entire family this season may be out of the question, but what about grabbing your bathing suit and taking a trip to the Bahamas; or cooking a dinner for two or four and asking each member to bring their special dessert; or try something new by volunteering to serve food at a homeless shelter or children's shelter.
Pick another day. Your adult children and grandkids will look forward to another special day and have several more warm memories and fun events to anticipate.
Be flexible and have an open door. Too many rules and regulations will spoil a holiday quicker than anything else. So what if a few more people show up at your holiday party. Someone brings a lemon pie for dessert when you slaved over your new pumpkin pie recipe. You suddenly have an extra overnight guest? Smile, have a few extra gifts ready and buy a few more pillows and blankets. That's how your family’s holiday traditions got started—making memories year-by-year.
Never say never. Don't be surprised if, after a few years, the traditions that you wanted to break free from become more appealing as time goes by. Often times, traditions that are put on the back burner for a while come back around and take on a new holiday glow. Always reserve the right to change your mind!
Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.dianegottsman.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman and Google+.