About a year and a half ago, my family moved from the US to Holland. My husband is Dutch and it was something we’d always considered – I guess I had the ‘European Dream’! Here we are now celebrating our second Christmas in a new house in a new country with new friends and a whole lot of old memories.
This is a very special time of year for me, it always has been. We, like everyone else, had traditions: I picked up our permit to cut down a Christmas tree in November, about the 2nd weekend in December, we headed into the forest to find a tree. There are four of us in our family and we are are all very opinionated (I don’t know where the kids get it…*clearing throat here*), so it’s wasn’t often a totally painless process. But, every time, we left with a gorgeous tree and went to our favorite restaurant for a long lunch. I won’t bore you with the rest of the traditions, but they’re likely similar to those of a lot of other Americans.
My question for the Advent Calendar readers is this: What Christmas traditions have you lost through the years and how have you noticed their departure?
I ask this because last year was our first Christmas in Holland. The transition to living here, leaving our home and friends and everything we knew behind, was much (much) more difficult than I ever expected.
Last year on Christmas, we were sharing a glass of wine with our new neighbors and my Buurvrouw (neighbor woman translated literally, but I call her friend) asked what our Christmas traditions were.
This was one of those bizarre scenes that I can still recall perfectly today. It was the moment that I realized how, in the midst of the move, we’d lost our traditions. They’d sort of fallen away in the whole process. I felt taken aback and had no answer. It was such a strange and actually quite sad moment.
But, we have small children and the beauty of kids is that they need you. The words of Oriah Mountain Dreamer come to mind: “can you…weary and bruised to the bone…do what needs to be done to feed the children…” (from The Invitation).
So we picked up and went on and I am finding that this year, the second time around, although I still miss the familiarity of Christmas in the US, looking ahead, we began new traditions last year. Here it is, the second weekend in December and we’ll be picking up our tree at a shop and taking down boxes of old decorations and listening to cheesy old Christmas music while we decorate. And while we do it, everyone will complain about the music, some balls will break, the kids will fight, the tree will lean just a little to the left or right and, well, I suppose not all the traditions are really lost so much as hiding.
I wish you all a Wonder Full Holiday Season – whatever holiday you celebrate. And as you take the time to think about the year that’s passed by far too quickly, once again, enjoy the moments of sadness as much as those of joy, it’s all a part of the Tradition.
Question: What traditions have you lost along the way and how have you noticed their departure?