Changing Family Traditions



As our family ages, its traditions are shifting. Christmas has always been celebrated at our house with gift opening in the morning and a huge feast in the evening.

Even when we were newlyweds, 36 years ago, everyone came to our house. I loved to do all the cooking, (trust me when I say it was better that way). Some of the cooks in our family could kill you:)


Small Christmas tree atop French Pastry table
We put our tiny tree on top of the French Pastry table in the corner so it wouldn’t look lost in the room.

We put up a very small tree this year that my son labeled “Ghetto”. I prefer modest and petite as a descriptive term, but it does border on Charlie Brown.

I used to bake dozens of cookies, tarts and other sweet goodies that I’d wrap and gift to neighbors and for the family to gorge on. This year I only made 1 batch of cookies and it was to go to a cookie exchange.

The frantic pace of previous years…shopping, wrapping, excessive decorating and general craziness just didn’t happen this year.

Dinner party preparations
The table linens still got ironed. The silverware was still polished and the chandeliers still got cleaned.

But instead of for family, it was for back to back, sit-down dinner parties with our friends, which I love to give.

Merryvale Profile Wine
All burners were firing on the stove and extraordinary, fine wine was served.


My daughter is traveling again this Christmas, and it’s hard not having her here. We all miss her. She’s off on an amazing adventure through Central America…surfing down volcanos and boating on rivers filled with crocodiles.

My husband’s relationship with his sister seems to be permanently strained since the death of their brother so she won’t be here this year.

And so… for the day…Christmas Day… I invited us to my son and daughter-in-laws house. It feels a bit like passing the baton. One I didn’t see coming and that has me feeling a bit odd.

Life stages, aging and changing priorities are all familiar to me. But this…feels sort of sad. I can’t explain why it does because I’ll be spending the time with my son, daughter-in-law and Grandson, who I adore to distraction.


It’s just a change in tradition which takes adjusting to. Sometimes it feels there have been too many changes this year, and that’s when I know I need to give myself quiet time to rebalance.


Have your family traditions changed this year?


  1. Your home looks simply gorgeous all decked out for the holidays, Jen. I love your petite tree-so festive. I know it was difficult not having your daughter home for the holidays. It does seem that each year there is some change in the branches of our family tree. I understand the bittersweet quality of it all. Thank goodness that little guy puts a smile on your face, it works every time! 😉 Merry, Merry!!
    xx, Heather

    1. We really miss her, but as it turns out, we were all so sick, she would have caught it!! That little fellows face lights up my heart whenever I see or think of him. A true delight!

  2. Hi Jennifer
    Greetings to you from across the pond 🙂

    I love this post and totally relate as to how the years bring change in our traditions.
    I love the idea of Christmas and have pictures in my head of how it’s going to be, look and feel! In reality I still end up a frazzled mess, tired and wanting to be left alone, put my feet up and watch the TV. I know that sounds awful, I have three lovely daughters (one still) at home) and have recently become Grandma to a beautiful Granddaughter (oh and a lovely husband, how could I forget!).
    This was the first year that I realised that it’s not going to be long before they are all doing their thing and maybe old Mum and Dad won’t be needed and there will be conversations between them as to who is either coming to us or inviting us for Christmas. So for the next few years while we are needed to provide the room, food, drink and gifts we will carry on with glad hearts, still be frazzled and tired but feeling blessed that we can do this for our loved ones.
    And maybe when we are not needed we may just hole up in a cottage by the sea, just the two of us….
    Happy new year to you xxx

    1. Hi Mel!! Welcome. Yes, enjoy it while you can. There’s plenty of time for solitude later. I don’t think of it as being needed so much as being the glue that holds the family together. You’re building memories…that are precious beyond belief.

  3. Merry Chtistmas!
    Promise I haven’t had one drop of egg nog…just champagne. lol

      1. Yes, but how much Champagne?? xoxo

    1. So it is a wonderful celebration!! Congrats!!

  4. The holidays are definitely changing for us, and just found out last night that they’re about to change even more for this new mother of the bride. 🙂 Toasted to the news last night.
    Merry Cheistnas, stylish girl.
    Thank you for making my world a little brighter thru this modern tech.
    Blessings…love your tree.

    1. I’m so delighted to have found you this year! Congratulations in order for you!
      Merry Christmas my new friend. xoxo

  5. Our Christmasses have changed so much I can’t even, as the kids say…I’ve been thinking about this much lately. It’s mostly good, completely inevitable, and just a little melancholy. Thank goodness there are sweet wee ones to ease the reconciliation to our changed roles. Merry Christmas!

    1. Merry Christmas to you Frances! Melancholy, so true. The little ones bring such delight! Enjoy yours!!

  6. I can totally relate. We are four years into marriage with our daughter (and there is a granddaughter with another coming in Feb) and just a year into marriage with our son. Even though our daughter and family live just an hour away, and our son’s in-laws live in our neighborhood, it’s still a dance. As many have said, flexibility is the name of the game.

    1. Sounds like a lot of traveling, but happy juggling! Flexibility is where it’s at here too. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!! Congratulations on your coming granddaughter!!!

  7. This has also struck a nerve with me. This is the first Christmas in 25 years that I am not frantically trying to get all of my shopping, baking, decorating, gift wrapping, etc done in time! Our daughter moved into her first apartment earlier this year and it is now just hubby and I in our home. For so many years, I was used to doing so much for others and thinking I could eventually relax “someday”. Well, “someday” is right now and I’m trying to readjust my thinking and slow down and do all those things I always wanted to do but never had the time for. I cut back on various time consuming preparations for the holidays and it feels wonderful not to feel overworked and stressed! But at the same time, I keep looking around and scratching my head and feeling like I am forgetting something because I am feeling relaxed!!! It’s very puzzling to me – this difficulty in the “passing of the baton” of the old mindset and traditional behavior and adapting a more relaxed attitude!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

    1. That’s beautifully put Veronica! I’m not overworked, not stressed but there is a strangeness about it. Wishing you a relaxing, happy and very Merry Christmas. xoxo

  8. Love you and miss you very much mom! Belize is beautiful but I miss ornaments from Mrs. Davis’ class, rum cake, & Scrabble death match. Xo

    1. Oh the scrabble death matches are NEVER the same without you my love! The ornaments from Mrs Davis are hanging proudly on our little tree. Have fun in Belize and keep that sunscreen fresh. Love you bunches my darling girl!!

  9. I have experienced many different Christmases over the years. This year everyone is coming to us in London, which is lovely apart from fitting large and small people into a small space. I am sure we will manage.

    1. You will be busy!! It sounds like an exciting Christmas!! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  10. I was at my dear Auntie J’s for her Christmas Brunch with cousins and sister and that’s the only remaining tradition in our family. Your grandson is adorable and Christmas is always so much more special with one of those little ones around. Merry Christmas Jennifer!!!! xo

    1. It really is so much more fun when their are children involved. The magic they feel, the excitement! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas GSL!! xoxo

  11. Your TREE is gorgeous!So, is your IRON!I need a new iron………….I think I forgot to tell someone that!
    New traditions……..yep although I think we will still be on track this year I can see changes coming.The Boys live close enough to come for dinner the 24th……..then I hope they spend the night in their newly re-done room!So, stockings will be opened in the AM…….with a late morning brunch.What I am cutting down on is the actually CHRISTMAS DINNER as I do a BIG dinner the 24th………and i figure by the night of the 25th the Boys will be heading back home!Every body has to work the following day!We shall see………I have FOOD just in case and of course am looking forward to FIVE dogs bouncing about……..MERRY CHRISTMAS!XO

    1. You will have a busy houseful!! Enjoy the traditions and enjoy your changes. Wishing you a very a Merry Christmas! I want to see that new guest room. xoxox

  12. Every year is different for us but I’m looking forward to this one.
    Merry Christmas!

    1. You have lots of excitement to enjoy. Merry Christmas Jenn!!

  13. I enjoy your blog. I have only just started reading it but it has a fresh honesty and relevance. I liked your comments about clean eye-glasses, manicures etc. Those little things that make us feel well groomed. I can also relate to this Xmas article; but I do not mind the shift of focus to my daughter’s house, simply because my work is so demanding in December. I look forward to reading more of what you write. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Georgia! I admit it’s so much easier to be going to dinner than stressing about all the cooking myself. My daughter-in-law is a darling, and makes us feel so at home there.
      BTW…I read you weekly and enjoy you immensely. I’ve saved a few of your forecasts over the years that zinged me to the core. Accurate doesn’t even come close!! So thank you very much. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!!

  14. This is so true for me too! Sometimes it is hard to pass the baton so to speak. Merry Christmas and here is to making new traditions

    1. Merry Christmas Mileah!! Cheers to you and I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

  15. Hi Jennifer,
    I’ve only just found your blog a few weeks ago whilst pondering over another one I sometimes read. I am from the other side of the world to you, as we say I come from ‘downunder’. I’ve only just returned from a wonderful holiday in your lovely country spending time in San Francisco, LA and my most favourite place in the world now ‘ The Big Apple’ what a great city it is!
    Well I must say you hit a nerve with me and as it happens Christmas for us this year is a change from our traditional one. We have one glorious gorgeous little 2 1/2 year old granddaughter who I love to pieces, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her and that includes traipsing everything down to my daughters house for a family Christmas at her family home so that our little Granddauhter and her Mum & Dad can enjoy the excitement of watching their first born relish the joys of getting up extremely early to see what Santa brings her. This for us is the first Christmas in our 35 years of marriage that everyone has not come to our home for Christmas. As you said it is such a shift in the dynamics of the day but one that I’m good with as it means we get to see our little granddaughter open her presents as soon as she wakes instead of having her wait for us to arrive mid morning Christmas. In fact I’m quite looking forward to having ‘a sleep over’ for Christmas just another change to ‘tradition’ as you say…. But I can’t lie it was hard ‘giving up the reins’ Happy Christmas to you and yours, Jackie

    1. We share so many life coincidences Jackie! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas. There really is nothing quite like the excitement and delight on children’s faces on Christmas morning. Enjoy! We’re having a sleep over too at my sons house.

  16. Bluebooby says:

    With each visit from the college kids, I know it will get less and less frequent. I also know with growing families, as they find jobs, spouses, make babies, things will shift and it will be difficult. Is it wrong to hope their spouses are orphans so I am not relegated to thanksgiving one year, christmas the other? Sigh. Have a very Merry Christmas.

    1. No it’s not wrong to hope they are orphans!! You always look at things in inventive ways! I love that about you…many other things too. Enjoy your beautiful kids being home and have a wonderful Christmas. much love xoxo

  17. I am learning that after the kids become adults, flexibility is the name of the game! We are changing the time of present opening for my married son and DIL, and this year my pregnant daughter and 22 month old grandson are living with us until Feb. when they move overseas. Life around here constantly changes.
    I love that little face you ended with and as I look into our little face, I realize all of my frustrations with changes really doesn’t matter…I am blessed to have time with him and my daughter before they move away.
    Have a joyous Christmas and Happy, happy New Year!

    1. Thanks Pam. We really are blessed. Enjoy your time with your grandson, daughter and entire family!! The one thing we can all count on is that things will change. Rolling with it is the only way to be!! xoxo

  18. Wendy mcleod macknight says:

    Wonderful post. I know we are nearing the end of our Christmases with the kids as they were. I am trying to get ready for passing the baton as well. I suspect I still have at least 3 or 4 years as is and then who knows? I am happy you will be with your son and his family. I am trying to get in the headspace that wherever my family is, that’s where Christmas lives and not be so controlling – no mean feat for a type A like myself. Much love and let me know how it all goes after the fact! Am learning so much from you! Xoxo wendy

    1. Being a type A myself, I understand the control issue. Things get sticky when family lives long distances from each other and you can’t be in two places at one time:) Wishing you a very a Merry Christmas Wendy. Much love xoxo

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