Holiday Traditions Are Not Always What They Seem

Photo by Abbey Steinman

By Abbey Steinman

As the holidays approach, a crucial factor to enjoying them is the traditions that come along with it. Whether it be picking out a real tree or baking your Christmas cookie recipe with your family, it’s something you’ll forever long to do when the season comes. Although, when the holidays make their arrival, my family and I lack in the festive traditions department. Our lives aren’t like Hallmark Christmas movies; we don’t obsess over Christmas fairy tales.

Growing up, and still to this day, my parents have always worked during the holidays. There hasn’t been a holiday where we experience the famous winter wonderland or the holiday magic. The only “tradition” that can come to mind is simply setting up the Christmas tree. Even then, we don’t do it together. It’s what I do by myself and is another chore on my to-do list.

Surely that seems lonesome, but I’ve grown out of the holiday spirit for as long as I can remember. The cravings of seasonal decor don’t appeal to my liking, and to put the decorations away when the time closes is just another hassle to me.

Nonetheless, my family and I have never had a proper Christmas, or typical ones to say the least. I don’t even know what a proper Christmas dinner looks like. I assume there’s a ham or a turkey involved with soggy vegetables, but that’s about it. We don’t sit all together on the couch and watch an average holiday movie with hot chocolate by our side. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I experienced such a thing it would make me uncomfortable. 

As for the importance of gift-giving, it was never brought up when Christmas rolled around. I grew up believing Christmas was the one time of the year where’d we get more than one present, nothing else. Not only that, it was more along the lines of, “Here’s a gift, enjoy it.” Well, that sums up the purpose entirely, but to specify, I never looked into gift-giving other than the surface level of it. 

Gift-giving never had much effect on me till I celebrated the holiday with my friends later on in high school. It was here, because of them, that I learned how to be thoughtful and tailor gifts to their interests. I never did that with my family, and it caused me to be the one who did not correlate gifts with my friends’ likings. In other words, I would probably give someone a three-pair pack of beige socks and call it a day. 

Although, sometimes there is a part of me who’s curious why people praise the holiday more than it should be. Despite enjoying the season with my friends and our festivities, I can’t say the same thing about my family. Christmas is just one of those things where my family and I play along and wait for it to go by. I can tell we want to enjoy it together how others do, but we simply don’t know how. To some degree, I think that’s okay. We all still want to have a jolly time, but only to the point where it doesn’t make any of us uncomfortable. 

Even though my family and I don’t participate in well known Christmas traditions, it doesn’t mean we don’t have any traditions. On Christmas Eve or Day, we go out to eat at any local casino just like we always do. It took me a long time to realize that this became an unspoken tradition because I never saw it as anything. I always thought it was our normal family outing just with a seasonal touch to the environment and atmosphere. We would eat whatever we were craving, converse, and leave. Yet, the more I think about it, the more I realize that is my own tradition. 

One of the many memories I have at South Point’s coffee shop consists of going there on Christmas Day. The restaurant was almost full with a few tables standing empty. At first, I didn’t like the idea of spending my holiday morning at a casino, yet now I’m reminiscent of it. Eating over-easy eggs with undercooked hash browns with my parents was something I ended up enjoying because we made fun of the meal for its lack of effort. 

We always said we could do better than the restaurant, but we were always cowards and continuously went back there. I believe one of the reasons as to why we did was because we didn’t truly care about the food. We admired the atmosphere that was around us and found it comforting. The tables around us were entertaining themselves like we did. We weren’t alone, and it was reassuring to see other families spending their holidays like we do, criticizing the tacky food that’s placed in front of us. 

Traditions shouldn’t be the same for everyone. I tricked myself into thinking our family outings didn’t hold much significance because it wasn’t what I saw on TV; I was a fool for this mindset. People make their own traditions in ways that satisfy them, not to satisfy others’ opinions. People don’t make traditions just because it seems like something they should do. They are habits that grow throughout time unknowingly, and I think that’s important. 

So as the holidays pass by, it doesn’t mean I feel left out when I watch others participate in the holiday spirit. It reminds me that I can’t wait to do what matters to me and my family, eating meals that don’t correlate to being festive during a materialistic holiday. 

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