Holiday Traditions: Reflection and Anticipation

This year, for the first time in 30-plus years, we won’t be “home for the holidays.” Instead, we plan to stay here in Madison and celebrate Christmas with just the three of us. Among other factors, I view our decision as a chance to start our own holiday traditions, in our daughter’s hometown. We’ll also get to share our traditions and Madison holiday moments with our families as they visit us throughout the season. In this lead-up to the holidays, I’ve been thinking about what traditions we might want to implement, reflecting on traditions from our childhood and our early years of marriage, and looking forward to creating brand new ones.

Childhood Traditions

As I think about what traditions we might want to incorporate, it’s been fun to take a trip down the proverbial memory lane and reflect on the traditions we had as children, and reminiscence with my husband about some of our respective favorite moments, from fruit salad and cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, to singing carols and big Christmas Eve celebrations with the whole family. As life is busier than ever, we often don’t take the time to think about some of our happy memories from our childhood, so it’s been a nice opportunity to hit pause and think back.

Recent Traditions

My husband and I have also created a few silly traditions during our years together, such as watching Love Actually and ordering Indian food the night before our long drive back to our hometown.

During the time my husband and I lived here in Madison before we had our daughter, we also started a few more local traditions, as we visited the Henry Vilas Zoo for Zoo Lights and toured our beautiful state Capitol to glimpse the gigantic Christmas tree. We may not have viewed these as actual traditions back then, but now I definitely consider them traditions to look forward to each year.

New Traditions

With our family now including a toddler, the excitement surrounding the holidays is even more palpable, a feeling that is sure to continue and grow as she gets older. Having a child of our own enables us to experience the holidays in a completely different yet familiar way, taking the time to gaze in wonder at the holiday lights, enjoy a sweet treat, and relish moments in each other’s company. I’d like to build upon some of our earlier traditions such as making advent calendars, creating fabulous Christmas stockings, and buying angel tree gifts, and implement some of our own, such as making gingerbread houses, visiting a tree farm to cut down our own tree, and wearing matching pajamas and drinking hot (warm) chocolate on Christmas Eve.

So while I’m sad that we aren’t going “home for the holidays” this year, I’m grateful for the opportunity to start our own family traditions, which will hopefully become some of our favorite memories and moments to look forward to throughout the year.


  1. This is great! My husband and I have always trekked “home for the holidays” with our now 2 kids, and I felt a loss of traditions of our own. We did a few things pre-Christmas, but most if the focus was simply trying to prep to travel and make it out the door! The 4 of us were getting lost. Last year, we told the kids that santa’s elves were making a special delivery to our own house on dec 22. On the morning we left, we did our own little Christmas morning with cinnamon rolls and a few presents. We loved it and the kids are asking for it again. Enjoy, and best of luck forging your own traditions. 🙂


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