Military life leads you to places you’ve never been, and you often change on the journey. One of the things that can change is the way you celebrate holidays. Whether your faith has shifted, you found a new tradition you love, or you will celebrate in a different culture for the first time, it can be supportive for everyone involved to communicate expectations clearly before the holidays. Here are a few things to think about when changing traditions.
What do you want with your new tradition? More family time or to honor a new path? Do you want to move away from old traditions that don’t resonate anymore? Civilian Jenn shares, “I believe it’s important to clarify what is no longer working for you during the holidays. You dishonor yourself if you continue traditions even when they no longer feel aligned.” Having clarity on why it is important to you will help inform the conversations you have about it.
Perhaps stateside, you always celebrate Christmas at your parent’s home, but now that you live abroad, it would put a considerable strain on your finances. You know your priority this year is staying home. Maybe you want to honor the winter solstice, but a friend’s yearly holiday party is that same night. You may say no to the party to prioritize a winter solstice gathering. Know what is a must for you and what can shift.
The frustration with any holiday often comes from unmet—and often unspoken—expectations. If you feel a tug to add or alter a tradition this year, sit down or have a phone conversation with the people involved. Letting them hear your heart behind the idea can reveal why it resonates with you.
Remember, not everyone will understand, and some may be upset. Regardless, you are still allowed to change traditions. If what you want is not approved by loved ones, you may have to do it on your own or find others who may be interested in joining separately.
Maybe there is a way to make both ideas work simultaneously or kick off the holidays with a new tradition and end with the old. Civilian spouse Jamie shares, “When changing family traditions, it helps to know what your family emotionally connects to and what they could live without. Some may not truly understand their emotional connection until a tradition is absent. Be willing to discuss and compromise to meet each other’s need to balance traditional vs. current desires.”
Traditions can be anything from expressions of faith, watching the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on December 1st, and even New Year’s Eve plans. You have permission to change, grow and explore new ideas. May this winter be filled with new and old traditions that bring you and your loved ones closer together.