Carefully-curated family traditions

Last Saturday morning after breakfast we all piled on the couch to watch the end of Christmas Vacation, which we had started the night before.

Anna got bored (sorry, Chevy Chase!) and wandered into the playroom. I glanced at her as she meandered over to a little set of blocks and started stacking them. She worked slowly, balancing one block on top of the other until the her tower wobbled and fell down.

She did it over and over, not getting frustrated like a normal toddler, but growing more and more delighted. Every time her tower fell she lifted her hands to her cheeks and laughed with glee, then started stacking again. She was wearing a Christmas dress, and the morning sun was shining through her golden curls. The best way to describe what I was witnessing was that it looked like some sort of propaganda staged to trick you into having a toddler. “See this beautiful cherub? Don’t you want one too?”

And now I’m going to take a little side-path to tell you that I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed and guilty these days. I know, I know, ’tis the season!

On top of all the normal household duties that (let’s be honest) I struggle to complete any time of year, I’ve also been busy filling Etsy orders. My house is messy and we’re not ready for Christmas, which, I’m sure, comes as a surprise to not one person. Never has anyone ever come here for efficiency or house cleaning tips. Even though this is who I (unapologetically!) am, ‘Tis the Season to Feel Bad About Everything You’re Not Doing!

My social media feed has filled with beautifully and — dare I say — professional-grade decorated homes. All by November 1. And, try as I might, I fall into the pit of comparison. Otherwise known as the pit of despair.

Then, on Saturday morning, I put down my knitting and grabbed my camera. Anna, playing in a messy playroom (where did that paper plate come from?) while her siblings laugh at Chevy Chase in the next room — this is what I want to remember.

Perhaps the very thing I’m feeling guilty about is the exact thing that my kids will look back on fondly together. Remember how every year before Christmas Mom would trail yarn everywhere she went, and couldn’t talk to us because she was counting stitches? And then a week before Christmas she’d morph into super-Christmas-Mom and burn a bunch of cookies and put a wonky garland on our mantle?

They’ll laugh about how Mom put their Halloween candy in their Christmas stockings as if they didn’t notice, and we’ll reminisce about how every night of Advent, Dad gathered the whole family on the couch to sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing along with Amy Grant.

And I’ll think back to that December morning when Anna played with blocks in my messy, undecorated house, and we all had a very, Merry Christmas.




  1. Anitra December 16, 2020

    It’s great that you decided to focus on the important things like your daughter and her contentness of playing and enjoying her childhood! Cleaning and decorating can wait!

  2. Angelika December 17, 2020

    I totally relate to this article! My living room (which is also the play area) is a complete mess right now. It looks like toy boxes vomited—and I find myself comparing everything to others’.

  3. Janeane M Davis December 18, 2020

    The great thing about family traditions is that they are unique to every family. We don’t have to make grand gestures. Instead, we can just live our lives and that becomes the tradition our children treasure.

  4. Sonia Seivwright December 18, 2020

    All you can do is your best. Sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and we forget what’s really important. I was so worried when my daughter was younger, bought her all the toys in the world because I didn’t want her to lack anything. But she was only playing with one thing all the time and she was happy.

  5. Elisa December 22, 2020

    Yes! Life is about the little moments!


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