"But we've always snapped photos in front of the tree on Christmas morning in your P.J.s. Remember, just before we open our stockings from Santa. You do want your stockings, right?" My guilt trips aren't working, not even on the first day of advent. I pour it on. "You have limited Christmases at home before you graduate. You'll be sorry some day that you didn't let me buy you Christmas P.J.s," I sniffle with a single tear rolling down my cheek.
"Mom, get a grip. We were in grade school when we wore Christmas pajamas. Need I remind you, I don't wear pajamas anymore?"
Cringing at the thought of my thirteen-year-old son in, well.... I can't go there. Why won't they cooperate like when they were younger? "You know how important Christmas traditions are to this family." Another sniffle and a second tear for affect.
"I'm too old for cutesy reindeer pajamas," adds my twelve-year-old daughter. "Plus, I don't let anyone take pictures unless my hair is done. And it better be a good hair day."
"Just for this year," I beg to no avail.
I'm about to run towards the mall bathroom for a pity party where surely there are other mothers of adolescents when my son admonishes me. "Lighten up, Mom. It's not that we don't like celebrating traditions. It's just that we're almost adults. Remember, we convinced you a few years ago we were too old for photos on Santa's lap?"
I painfully recall that year. "It was hard, but I survived...somehow."
"Mama, we loved all the traditions when we were younger. We don't want to give them up, just adapt them so we're not embarrassed," my daughter adds. "Oh, and we want to include our friends just like we do the rest of the year."
I've already been forced to give up some traditions. Now they want to change traditions, AND include other hormone-laced adolescents? What will it be next? The two of them insisting on an artificial tree to help save the environment?
Disturbed by these new fangled notions, I consider my options.
I can force them to celebrate and they'll resent me and the reason we celebrate Christmas, to wish Jesus a Happy Birthday! Oh, I remember the Jesus Birthday parties we celebrated. The neighborhood kids brought canned food for the Angel Tree Project, listened to the Christmas story, and played fun holiday games. We already gave that up.
"Lord, why is changing Christmas traditions so hard for me? I'm letting them grow-up in other areas."
The answer arrives in my own question. The meaning of traditions: handing down beliefs and customs, from generation to generation, especially by practice. It isn't so much the specific way we express the traditions, but our beliefs behind the traditions.
I recount Luke 2:11: "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (NIV). Then it dawns on me. Maybe it's past time my kids learn the deeper meaning of Christmas and get involved serving others.
Looking at my two children, I mean, adolescents, I begin, "Never mind new pajamas. You're not kids anymore. You've reminded me how important keeping our beliefs are, but how we practice our traditions can be modified. You're becoming young adults who need to adapt expressing traditions that help you demonstrate that Christ is Lord of your life. You can tell me all about your ideas on the way home."
P.S. Stay tuned for Part 2
Image from: Stock.XCHNG www.sxc.hu/ christmas-tree-3-1409681-s. Accessed 4/19/2014.