As your children grow up, and then as grandchildren start popping out, some traditions keep going, some have to change.
We all develop traditions in our families, those various customs and beliefs that we follow and pass on - some lasting for generations, some for a few years. Some of these relate more to a specific date, like Christmas or Thanksgiving, some relate more to a function, like an annual trip to a cottage, but the strongest seem to relate to both.
My family had our own traditions related to Christmas. Being Catholic, there was the mandatory Christmas Eve tradition of Midnight Mass. If we were up north for Christmas, in Kirkland Lake, we went with my grandparents to their church, the French Catholic one. It was the biggest one in town of course, high up on a rocky hill. We got a sermon in French and, back then, the rest of the Mass in Latin. Since I understood neither, and was never very religious, it was a pretty dull tradition for me. But it was important to my grandparents, and to God, so we went for their sake. n my late teens, after my grandmother died, my mother, "Uncle" Ted, and I started a new tradition - the Christmas Eve Moose Milk. That replaced the Midnight Mass, as we lacked both the motivation and the coordination to venture out. We also had Christmas stockings as kids, filled with trinkets and fruit, I assume had a pile of presents under the tree, and I seem to remember the all-you-can-eat Christmas Day dinner. Strange that I remember a lot of little moments from growing up, but nothing really about Christmas. I don't think it's anything like repressing memories - the Christmas of the fire, the year of the axe incident, the year we moved to Bolivia - none of those things happened. I think we just had regular everyday somewhat low key traditions. Other than the Memories of Moose Milk (sounds like an obscure Northern Ontario Presidents Choice recipe).
(Note- I realized posting this that I'd written about some of this back in 2004 - here's the original.)
With my kids, we carried on with the stockings hung by the chimney with care, to be filled with with booty and bling from the new trendy toy places like Mrs.Tiggy Winkles. Filled with wind-up toys and clever puzzles and strange little creatures, the stockings were a highlight of Christmas morning. But, they were not cheap to fill, and as the kids grew up, there was not as much play value in their contents. So a couple of years ago my kids suggested we cut back on all the fancy stocking stuffers, and go back to Dollarama fare, a few simple toys, some basic kitchen things, some needed toiletries. And some fruit. With my grandchildren, I suspect a few fancier trinkets will creep into the little ones' stockings - it's hard not to spoil them.
Christmas presents were a pretty basic tradition for my kids. They sat wrapped, under the tree, and each of us pick one on Christmas Eve to open. The Santa presents, being larger, like a snow sled or bike, were unwrapped. They appeared by the tree after the kids were asleep - some assembly required. The rationale was that Santa didn't have the time to warp all the gifts.
The kids were 4 and 6 when I separated, so we had to change some traditions, and create some new ones. We settled into kids with me for Christmas Eve, to their mom's Christmas morning, then dinner at her place later in the day. With me invited to dinner also -very nice. As the kids got older, and had boyfriends and girlfriends, then spouses and inlays, then kids of their own, there were more demands on them from others for those few prime times on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This year I decided the important part of the Christmas Eve tradition was not so much the date, as the events and people around it. So, we'll gather here the evening of the 23rd, have some tourtiere and salad, bit of wine, see what's in each of our Christmas stockings, then exchange and open presents. We still get to hang out together, and they can start developing their own traditions for the 24th and 25th.