A new holiday tradition

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Home for the holidays was always something to look forward to every year until I moved to Reno, Nev. When kids grow older and sometimes start families of their own, traditions change.

This year instead of gathering at my mother’s house to share in the perfect holiday gathering of last-minute wrapping, cookie baking and reminiscing about the past, I will be creating my own tradition with my husband and two sons.

I am convinced that the traditional holiday can become a burden if we allow it to become a stressful time in our lives.

Every year at my mother’s house, my relatives barely finished eating the Thanksgiving meal before someone mentioned holiday shopping.

Everyone would remain gathered at the dining room table purposefully flipping through sales fliers and strategically plotting routes and destination times to various stores.

The mission was to find the best prices for Christmas items they had been waiting most of the year to purchase.

“This is insane,” I finally said one holiday season.

The highlight of this time of year should not be reduced to Black Friday sales and last-minute Christmas shopping frenzies.

Before, I would have been engrossed in the holiday spirit of buying an extraordinary amount of gifts and feeling guilty because I received an unexpected gift from someone that I didn’t have on my shopping list.

This personal mania changed when I married and took on the tradition of unwrapping Christmas. My husband and I eliminate the holiday stress and propaganda by sticking to the basics of family and fun.

Some of our traditions include creating a tasty smorgasbord made of leftovers and forgotten about food from the freezer or ordering pizza on Christmas Eve. Additionally, taking the kids for a special outing and playing games are highlights of Christmas Day. It may sound peculiar to some, but it works for us.

I confess that it can be difficult to try new things if you have always celebrated Christmas in what I call the traditional mode of decorating the Christmas tree, hanging lights, maneuvering through shopping crowds and buying bundles of gifts.

Along with this tradition is often the pressure of buying the perfect gift, disappointed children who sometimes don’t receive the popular advertised toy, and the stress of cooking for a huge family and trying to make the day wonderful.

What came out of my immediate family’s new tradition is a love for spending time together, worshipping Jesus Christ through song and prayer, and learning to relax and enjoy the holidays.

As we all know, less can be more. A nontraditional Christmas may not be for everyone, but for the Haney family it is a way of rediscovering the holiday spirit through simplicity and love.

So, before you gear up for weeks of holiday shopping and stressful events take some time to think about how your family can rejuvenate the holidays with new family traditions. It is a challenge that your family might find pleasantly rewarding.

Dr. Pamela Haney is a native of Franklin. She is a 1987 graduate of Franklin High School.

Haney lives in Reno, Nev., where she is the University Ombudsman for the University of Nevada, Reno.

She is a wife and mother of two sons.