Thursday, December 10, 2009

Be Careful of Your Traditions!

Here's a warning to new parents: Once you begin a tradition, IT WILL NOT DIE! Just like Freddy Krueger, it's going to come back, over and over again, no matter what you do!

Years ago, when my children were little, I made these crude Christmas stockings (3 of them), and put some little trinket in the felt, hot-glued, numbered pockets. For the 12 days before Christmas, each child got to pull something out of a pocket, and the last day are 3 nativity figures, one for each of them, that they set up on a book shelf.

All was well and good, while they were little--a quarter here, a marshmellow chocolate santa there, maybe a Lego guy, and I'm done.

Not so, as they got older; then it became a $5 bill here, a movie ticket there, lip gloss? A key chain? Suddenly, we're not talking chump change, but 12 x 3 = a significant financial outlay. And they had the audacity to move away anyway! Some years, I even mailed them to their college dorms. . .

So I tried to gracefully "retire" these oldies.

Nothing doing! Once a tradition; always a tradition! "Where's our stockings?" and "You're going to put out those stockings, aren't you?" and, inevitably, the guilt would get to me, and I'd have to wrack my poor addled, non-creative, depleted brain for what to put into the tiny little pockets.

One year, I tried draping ribbons to larger-than-the-pockets items deposited in the sock itself. Then I could slip in some earmuffs, or socks (you know, the practical, glamorous, things), but the ribbons got all tangled together.

Because I don't think they read my blog, I'll let you in on a few secrets: This year, other than the pocket-sized hand-sanitizer for day 12, I'm slipping in some notes that REQUIRE some things from them, like "Let mom take your picture & smile pretty," and some instructions, "Wash the dishes, then go look under the musical snowman in the living room."

Do you have any suggestions? What else should I send them off to do? Have you had any "traditions" that you thought had run their course, but no one would let you deep-six?


Sharon said...

Oh great ideas! If they insist on the pockets, you should get something in return.

Or... you could get those photo puzzles that come in twelves pieces. Take a pic of their gift and each day they get a little closer to guessing.

Suzy said...

Whats funny is that I can't make a tradition stick lol! Perhaps this one stuck for you all because it included surprises for the children? I keep trying new traditions to find one that we will all look forward to each year. Great post!

Esther said...

LOL, that is hilarious, and oh so true! I better watch out while my kiddos are still little and clueless! :)

pat said...

I love Sharon's idea of the photo puzzle of their present! Great one! I have a silver plastic reindeer ornament from the 50's that my kids think is hilarious; every time it goes on the tree they laugh themselves silly. The year I didn't put it up (because they think it is so ugly, hideous, etc) you would've thought I'd cancelled Christmas!! So, I found each of them the same reindeer on eBay and put in in their stocking the next year. Ugly never dies! HA!

Maria said...

I so feel your pain. I created a holiday monster machine! Our Christmas begins on St. Nicholas Day, December 6th, and it goes until January 6th, Three Kings Day. Part of the problem was that my children wanted to adopt the customs of every nationality they had ever heard of: St. Lucia's Day: Couldn't we make some crowns with candles and wear them on our heads? . . Le'ts go cut our own tree down, instead of getting an artificial one, or even one bought at the corner lot . . . Advent: Can we do the candle ring? . . . St. Nicholas Day: Put out the shoes and write letters! St. Nick will leave pajamas . . . Hannukah: Can't we get a dreidel? . . . Alumni Children's Christmas Party at Rosary College, my alma mater . . . Holiday Pictures for the Christmas cards . . . Gingerbread House building: My artistic son went through a period where we had to get a kit every year and build a house, which would go straight in the garbage after Christmas . . . The Nativity Set: When they were little, they'd quarrel about who was going to get Jesus to ride the camel, and who would get the big camel (our set is made out of a durable hard plastic so they never hurt it) . . . Cookie-baking time: Actually this one was not so bad, all they ever wanted was chocolate chip cookies, it was me that wanted to make other kinds . . . Christmas Eve: The Cuban party with a different theme every year . . . and let's-make-a-pot of chamomile tea for Santa before going to bed because he's lactose intolerant (this one thanks to a Mall Santa one year) . . . Christmas Day: Presents! And more presents in the stockings hung by the window sill (we didn't have a fireplace back then) . . . New Year's Eve: Let's throw buckets of water out the door at midnight (Mom please wake me up!) . . . Three Kings: Three Kings Day Party, bury a coin in a cake and watch it disappear so no one can ever find it, crown the King, burn frankincense and myrhh, and one last present from the Three Kings!

I remember the year you made stockings just like this for my boys. How could you? They loved them so much that they played with them constantly and would not let me put them away after Christmas. They came up with their own game where they would hide toys in the pockets and try to get the sibling to guess what was in the pockets. The stockings eventually fell apart and I ended up getting a fabric Advent calendar with toys made out of fabric that could be re-used every year. I just couldn't muster the energy to come up every year with so many little gifts on top of everything else, not to mention that we had a neighbor that gave them chocolate Advent calendars every year, so they always had two calendars going . . . I've been able to retire the stockings by the fireplace, but John came home a couple of days ago and the first thing he did was go to the basement and dig up the Advent calendar - and berate me for not putting it out!

You know what? I've loved every minute of this madness!

Reds said...

Great tradition!!! I am sure your kids love their stockings!!

Nicki, said...

Love it! I have wanted to swap out our mismatched stockings for more uniform/designer like stockings but the kids love them and that is more important. You could put a note for them to vacuum out the car (and keep the change = leave a small tip somewhere in the car); you can include a slip asking one to join you in shopping. My kids are home and I still enjoy even a simple trip together to the store because it is time together. I like your tradition and am glad your kids are staying the course of tradition.

Jeanne said...

I read somewhere in your post you said you weren't creative...I totally beg to differ! You are one of the most creative people I know. I think this is terrific. There's a class over at Big Picture Scrapbooking dot com called Gift of Words...something you already possess, but maybe it will give you some ideas of word gifts to give to your kids. Tuck some of those in with the goodies and treats, maybe?

It is always interesting to see what will capture the kids' imaginations and heart strings.

Bobbi said...

Oh that is such a cute tradition and so funny that it went all Nightmare on you.

Suggestion- Buy Bobbi a Canon Markii (I will be sending you my address for this)

Oh wait you only buy Nikon, so just make it the Nikon equivalant and I will sell it. Thanks :)

Cheri said...

This is too funny! The only tradition that is biting my behind this year is excess (as in the expectation of too many gifts) - but then we never did advent calendars or 12 days of Christmas (thank heavens)! But my kids (now teens and young adult) still want their Christmas Eve drive to see everyone's holiday lights.