christmas traditions {new / old}

christmas tree

I come from an extremely large extended family and holidays were quite a party growing up.  Holiday gatherings usually consisted of at least 30-40 people and chaotic madness ensued.  Spending the day with just our immediate family never occurred and I somehow equated small gatherings on holidays with loneliness.  We were the family that took in the strays.  We were big, happy, and Polish.  I still fondly reminisce about holidays past but realize that family no longer exists.  The almost twenty first cousins I share my holiday memories with have grown with the exception of two who are still young and one who passed away, many have moved away, and my parents’ divorce changed holidays forever, as divorce tends to do like a tornado whipping through a quaint town and leaving a mess of wreckage behind.  At one point I became the stray that needed to be taken in.  I was not sure how I would handle the holidays when my husband and I headed east three years ago, considering our closest family members are approximately 2,000 miles away.  To avoid exorbitant plane tickets and hurt feelings we enacted a “No Holiday Rule” meaning we refuse to travel during the holidays.  I thought we’d be lonely, sad, and spend the day longing for our families.  But, a funny thing happened: our little holiday celebrations became even more special, we grew closer as a couple, and I am more excited for the holidays than when I was a child.  My husband and I are able to spend the day with just us.  No pressure, no timelines, no obligations.  No craziness of driving from house to house and watching the clock to ensure every parent receives the same amount of face time.  We’ve taken the best of our holidays past, armored with the sadness of holidays past, and created new traditions for us.  We’ve both experienced holidays deep in despair and we’ve come out more grateful for simple gatherings spending time with the most important person in our life.  When people ask our holiday plans and we tell them we’re spending the day with just the three us, we often garner a look of pity for our sad, lonely little Christmas or an invitation to their gathering because we can’t possibly spend the holiday alone.  Of course we miss our families but I just smile, my heart warm inside, knowing there is absolutely no way else I’d rather spend my holiday than with my husband and our dog.  So, Merry Christmas from my small family to yours and I hope you enjoy your holiday no matter the size of your gathering.  Above all else, I’m thankful for the opportunity to pick up my family’s wreckage and start anew with our small party of two (+Charlie).

Keeping old traditions: Making kolaches, a Czechoslovakian dough my grandmother made.  This year, we’re going to try our hand making cioppino, which is a fish stew my dad used to make.


New traditions since 2010: Midnight mass rather than Christmas morning or Christmas Eve day.  Taking a two-hour walk with mugs of mimosas.  Stopping for coffee for one last holiday mug.  Enjoying every second of our stress-free day.  FaceTime with our family members.

Merry Christmas!


  1. How wonderful that sounds Lesleigh. Enjoy that and maybe even keep that tradtion after you have added on a few more blessings. (good luck) As I am pondering how I want to cook a 13 lb prime rib and if I want to add another for the 20+ that are arriving here later today. I honestly look forward to it, (making memories for your youngest cousins) but part of me is a little envious of you and Nate and Charlie. We will miss you. Merry Christmas!! Aunt Beth

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