Every year for as long as I can remember, we put up our Christmas tree the weekend of Thanksgiving and took it down the day after Christmas. This was the tradition at my parent’s house growing up and I upheld that tradition after I got married and began having kids. I adore Thanksgiving–the food, the family, the fellowship–so I have always embraced providing distinction between the two holidays.
But this year, we decorated for Christmas a week earlier than our normal tradition–before Thanksgiving. The purist in me staved off the Rowdy boys’ request to decorate for Christmas for a few days, but then I finally gave in. And after I relented, I probed around my own little Grinch’s heart to try to make sense of my hesitation to break tradition.
What I discovered is that the adult in me doesn’t want to hear Christmas songs before Thanksgiving, much less Halloween. The adult in me doesn’t want to be bombarded with Christmas advertisements in stores and online for two months straight. The adult in me doesn’t want my living room rearranged, my house cluttered with holiday knicknacks or my floors scattered with tree trimmings and tinsel and glitter.
But why? Because the adult in me doesn’t want to think about the stress of the holidays before it’s necessary.
The adult in me must find the perfect gift for everyone on my list and make the purchases. The adult in me must juggle our holiday schedule to determine when we celebrate with both sides of the family as well as extended relatives. The adult in me must decide what to cook and for how many people and on how many occasions. The adult in me must determine which holiday parties and Christmas presentations we will attend and which ones we will regretfully decline. The adult in me is responsible for all the details of the holidays regardless of their wavering ties to the meaning of Christmas.
But the mom in me longs to break from tradition and the finite details of the holiday season, and begin the Christmas celebration early. The mom in me embraces the magical (sometimes fantastical) do-good spirit of Christmas and is thrilled to see my kids bubbling with excitement. The mom in me prays they understand the true meaning of Christmas as we decorate our tree and top it with a symbolic star. The mom in me hopes they see that the exchanging of gifts simply points us back to the true Gift. And the mom in me is completely humbled as she witnesses her three year old teaching the Christmas story to her two year old using a simple manger scene.
Most days, it seems that these kids of mine teach me much more than I ever teach them. They embrace simplicity, live life in the moment, speak simple truths and find joy in the most unsuspecting moments.
So this holiday season in the Hobson household, we are breaking tradition and doing our best to remind each other that all these festive things–the decorations, the tree, the gifts, the together time–are simply life’s little extras that help us celebrate our gratefulness of Jesus’ birth.