Untraditional Holidays


Untraditional Holidays

With Thanksgiving around the corner and Christmas not far behind, nostalgia and childhood memories are filling the air. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that my family isn’t all in the same place anymore or that we now have a little one of our own, but these days have me noticing how much the holidays change along with life and it saddens me some. There is joy to be found in the new, but I mourn what was.

Living overseas for most of my life, we weren’t always physically close to family, so our holidays didn’t always look traditional, but what is traditional anyway?

Our house would be filled with not only my parents and siblings, but also with neighbors and friends who in a way were our family. Even when we lived close to family, occasionally someone would joined us who wasn’t blood related. One year, we spent Thanksgiving traveling home from visiting my dad while he was on R&R from deployment. We stopped for dinner with my sister, but since she was working we all ate at the base mess hall. It was unexpectedly fantastic. We saw old teachers, friends, and spent the day with those whose families weren’t there to gather with them. Looking back, I can see that things started changing when my older sister and I left for college.

We were never home for Christmas until close to Christmas Day, so our mom would mail us our Saint Nicholas gifts for December 6th. Some years we were sent a picture of our gift and told it was awaiting our arrival. I actually started celebrating St. Nicholas Day with my roommates and would leave little gifts in their shoes on the night of December 5th. Now that I’m married, I do it for my husband. I guess it was my way of making up for what I held dear. Our daughter is only 12 months and I can’t wait until she can join in. My family also started waiting until all of us were home for college to put the ornaments on the tree.

More has changed since getting married and splitting every other holiday between family. It means that I don’t always get to participate in my family traditions, I have to learn a new set of family traditions and we get to make traditions for our own little family. If we were with my Irish/Italian family for Thanksgiving, along with the normal fixings, we always had lasagna on the table and one in the freezer for the hostess. It’s a staple when granddad makes the best. I can’t remember the last time I had lasagna at Thanksgiving. I mentioned to my husband about making one for our church Thanksgiving dinner and he wasn’t sure if people would eat it. I might make one anyway, haha. When Thanksgiving is spent with my family now, it’s not always with all of us so the delicacies on the table are limited. A new addition to the holidays this year is that I get to make the turkey. You’re going to laugh but I’ve never cooked THE turkey before. That’s right, I’m 31 and never cooked the turkey. I’ve never had to. Mom always fixed it and the kids helped with everything else. So if you have any advice or good recipes I’m all ears.

Christmas will also look different this year. With my mom going through chemo she can’t do all that she used to before. The kids will be taking over the kitchen this year and planning the menu. The things that will remain the same though are soup on Christmas Eve, cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, the reading of the nativity before we open gifts, and Christmas Crackers with dinner. I miss the times my family isn’t all together and I don’t know when we will be all together again for a holiday, but it makes the times we are together much sweeter.

I suppose you can say that our holidays have never been traditional to the outside world, but it’s the things we do during these days that make them traditional. There is sadness in the changes, but there is also joy. Joy in new life, family, and being together. Joy in creating our own traditions and taking them from our childhood into the present.

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Kimberly Casey
Hi, my name is Kimberly and I am a new stay at home mom. I am a nomad of sorts. Born in Arkansas to a military family of five children, I was speaking German by the age of 4. I have lived in Germany, England, and the United States and have traveled to countless other countries. In 2006 I moved to Providence, Rhode Island in order to attend Johnson & Wales University where I received a Bachelor's degree in Food Service Management, an Associate's in Culinary Arts, and an Associate's in Baking and Pastry Arts. So you could say that I'm a foodie.  After college I worked in Collegiate Ministry for many years and loved every second of it. I would do it again in a heartbeat if given the chance today. I met my husband, Wade, in 2011 through Collegiate Ministry but we didn't start dating until 2015. Our entire relationship was long distance and we saw each other a total of 10 times before our wedding. After our wedding in 2016, I moved to Chattanooga where my husband is an associate pastor and I can say that this move was one of the hardest things I had ever done. After two years of marriage we welcomed our daughter into the world this past October. She is a joy, loves to smile, and has turned our world upside down. If I'm not in the kitchen baking or cooking, you can find me outside enjoying nature.