When something's not working: creating new traditions and routines

Turns out it's still pretty fun decorating a tree...even if you bought it pre-chopped on the side of the road.

As I see it, December is a perfect time to consider rituals, traditions and routines to see which ones work and which ones need to go. This time of year is so steeped in tradition you almost can’t help but think about it. And with the new year approaching, it’s a good time to consider whether what you’re doing now is working for you.

One of my Secrets To Happier Motherhood is “Be flexible.” Planning is helpful but only if you aren’t a slave to your ideas about the way things should be or the way they would be in a perfect world. So yes, this year I’m hand-writing some of my holiday cards and sending them in the actual mail, but I’m also limiting my recipient list and reserving the right to make this a not-every-year event.

I’ve already shared about how our holiday travel traditions have changed. Here are some other rituals we’ve modified over the years:

  • We went and cut down a tree ourselves…once. We won’t be doing that again until the kids are old enough not to fall in the snow every three seconds or cry bitterly about their numb hands. And since that last part may never happen, I’m trying to resign myself to the idea that cutting down a tree may be just the kind of romantic notion that will never be as good in reality as it is on the pages of a magazine, or at the very least, will probably have to become a tradition ten or fifteen years from now when most of my kids have flown the nest.
  • We used to each open a gift on Christmas Eve, the way I did growing up. But as my big boys have gotten older, it’s become harder and harder–their gifts are generally more expensive than the younger kids’, so they get fewer of them. The big kids were opening things like socks on Christmas Eve just to have a “small” gift to open. Not that fun. So two years ago I started buying a board game and packaging it up with cocoa, special popcorn and other treats. We open it as a family on Christmas Eve and enjoy the treats while we play the game.

On Monday I’m going to share some everyday rituals and routines we’ve changed to fit our lives better. This is a good time of year to think about shaking things up and letting go of what no longer works, whether it’s a holiday tradition or part of your everyday routine.

What are some routines, rituals and traditions you’ve had to change–or need to change because they’re no longer working? Please share!

The winners of the hand-engraved notecards from Kneen & Co have been announced!

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