“One of the best things about parenting is that you get an opportunity to create new family traditions with your children. The holidays are often filled with traditions that families may have kept from their childhoods because they create a sense of nostalgia of simpler and happier times. Some families begin new traditions because they may have felt like something was missing from their family’s holiday events and the idea of giving their children something they may have felt lacking is a way of starting over by creating new positive memories.
I would put myself in the latter category.
Growing up as an only child with older, busy, career-focused parents, I often felt like holidays and, in particular, Christmas, were somewhat special but not necessarily that different as far as family time together. It was often just us three; I remember it feeling lonely and anticlimactic.
My mom went overboard with presents (as a child, I admittedly loved that and yes, the ‘only child’ stereotype applied at Christmas) but something was missing.
Time together. Family together.
Looking back on it now, Christmas just came and went, and it all felt busy and programmed.
So when we became parents to a 3- and 4-year-old through the blessing of adoption, we instantly had to plan and begin new traditions. I knew what I didn’t want our holidays to be filled with—frantic shopping trips, full calendars planned with parties, and a consumerist mindset that just creates clutter at Christmas.
Clutter in our homes as well as in our hearts.
I wanted to begin some new traditions with my boys, but I wanted them to be focused on our family.
Family being together.
Family feeling together and not feeling obligated to buy more stuff or be more busy doing things just because it was Christmas time.
The first Christmas after our boys’ adoption was finalized, we started the tradition of getting away to a beach house for the week before Christmas.
We wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle and endless expectations that often fill the holidays. We live within a few hours of some of the most beautiful beaches on the east coast, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. We live in a beach town, but Cape Hatteras is the beach and nothing but the beach, so it is the beach we like to escape to in order to camp, surf, and just soak up the peace that being in nature brings.
It is a place that is void of over-commercialization—no chain fast-food restaurants, no shopping malls, and no chaos that the holiday season can often bring. In the off-season, the tourists have left, the beaches are wide open and quiet, and the rental prices are affordable.
It is peace on earth for us.
This year will be our family’s 5th year vacationing at the beach during the week before Christmas. The boys have come to expect it and get excited knowing it is something they can count on and look forward to near Christmas time. My husband and my boys surf, we take long walks on the beach, they skate at some local skate spots, we watch the waves roll in from rocking chairs on the top deck, we play card/board games (I always try to find one new game to play for the first time on the trip!), we have bonfires and eat pizza on the beach, we watch movies, we find nature treasures on the beach to keep for souvenirs, we make meals together and most importantly—we have no agenda each day but to be together and make memories.
20 or so years from now, I hope and pray my boys are willing to continue this family tradition with the addition of a few more family members. I hope they still want to spend time with Mom and Dad at a house overlooking the ocean. It may have to have more bedrooms because I envision wives and grandchildren along for the week before Christmas beach vacation, simply enjoying being together.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Elizabeth Breland. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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