What does it look like to start over again during the festive season?
It looks like my husband and I making our annual trip to the Belfast International Market one last time before we made the move back to the States. It looks like a house full of moving boxes, barely unpacked, sitting next to your kitchen table as you eat a simple Christmas lunch that was as much effort as you could muster up after a crazy work week and moving house. It looks like finding the Christmas ornaments a few days before Christmas and half-heartedly hanging them on the tree so your children have a tree to admire. It looks like my mom putting up the Christmas tree by herself, accentuating the absence of the love of her life. It looks like my brother reading the Christmas story, instead of my sweet father. It looks like years of my husband and his brothers wrapping presents for their mom, hoping that she knows how much their dad would have wanted to shower her with sweet, thoughtful gifts.
All of these moments point towards the one constant in life—change. Some changes we anticipate. Others take us by surprise. I think that is why people love traditions so much. We create special ways of celebrating and remembering certain times so that we have anchoring points throughout our rapidly changing lives. We all want something constant in our life but often unplanned and unexpected events happen, disrupting the consistent streak. All of the sudden, life as we know it has changed forever.
Now that I’m a parent, I see what my parents did with new eyes. I want to know the ‘why’ behind the choices they made. Why did my mom always want to listen to The Nutcracker soundtrack while we put up the Christmas tree? Why did my parents want to be a part of their neighborhood display of carolers ushering in the singing of Christmas songs with a huge, wooden painted display? Why do most of us use those classic chocolate advent calendars for our kids to mark the days leading up to Christmas? The list goes on.
I think deep down all of us want connection. We want to share the things we enjoy most about the holiday season with our families in hopes of forming ties that last. However, my holiday season looks very different now than it did when I was a kid. I would venture to say it’s the same for most of us. The shared moments of celebration have shifted, some have come to an end simply because a parent has passed away or we have moved to a new place. These changes make me pause and ponder the festive season in a new way. The old ways of connection may no longer be available.
So this year, instead of focusing so much on decorations, activities, and things that may not always be there, I am turning my attention inward towards what I can always carry with me. This year, for the festive season, I want to remember the unconditional love of my parents, and in turn, love my family unconditionally. I want to practice kindness this holiday season because you can do it anywhere, at any time. I want to be present with the people in my life, enhancing the moments I have with my loved ones that will most likely make the season feel richer because I will remember it more. My hope is that no matter where we are, what traditions we connect with, that somehow it lasts. By making such a subtle change, we will sew a thread through our life and family history that will be passed on long after we are gone.
Breanna Chud is a wife, mother, author, and adventurer. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their twin sons. She enjoys working at Purpose Boutique, writing as often as she can, nestling into her cozy home, and pursuing the outdoors. She self-published her first book The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants in 2018 about her very personal journey through infertility. Breanna loves searching for the tiny, meaningful moments of daily life that often go missed in our fast-paced lives.