Don’t Hang My Tradition Up That Way
A Note from the Editor
By Jordan Sapir
In this month’s Über Moms’ Newsletter we asked our contributors to write about their holiday traditions. Whilst sitting down to brainstorm all the traditions I miss and want to embrace as the new matriarch, I soon realized…
Now, let’s see, there’s my mom’s potato salad, putting up the tree on the 24th, opening one gift on the 24th, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and, of course, lighting the menorah.
That’s when I had a sad realization. We were the only ones in our family who lived in another state. All my aunts celebrated together and we rarely visited for Christmas. My mom refused to leave her own house, I assume because she wanted to create her own traditions. That left us to celebrate at my step-father’s mother’s house. I always felt like an outsider. We received the obligatory ugly sweater or regift from his family, while my surrogate cousins received their dream Christmas wishes. They said prayers we didn’t know. They ate food I wasn’t used to and had traditions I didn’t understand. Since I was little I have promised myself my traditions would start in my own home. I would be the matriarch and would decide when, where and what we celebrate. Don’t get me wrong; I will forever remember those magical nights waiting for Santa and drinking eggnog by the fire, which eventually turned into flights home from New York, then Israel, then Europe. But I also remember a lot of stress. I remember my mom waking up at 3 or 4 to cook dinner for us, which would only be eaten the following day, after we embarked on being imposter guests at her in-laws through second marriage.
My mom always spent tons on our gifts and probably spent more than was budgeted. I remember decorating the Christmas tree and driving to Frankenmuth (I know how ironic that is. Talk about destiny. Driving to a fake German village to buy a Christmas tree in America.)
It was all very festive. And tension filled.
The holiday season marks the time of year for families to argue!
“That’s not the way we did it in our house.”
“I can’t stand your mother’s potato salad. This year I will offer to make it.”
“I’m not religious; I refuse to partake in the religious aspects.”
“Don’t put that there; that’s my tradition.”
Why are we so up in arms about Christmas? No one in my family cares how we hide the Easter eggs.
I’ve figured it out. No, I’m not that in tune with my emotions and pragmatic. I’ve done some major self-reflection. Why am I so emotional about my Christmas holiday traditions? I am not religious. Well, I’m not Christian, I don’t celebrate any traditional religious holidays, yet I can form a quorum to vote against my partner’s Christmas traditions.
Here’s the thing. When I truly (meaning not in my usual satirical manner) think about why I need to stick to my “traditions” in such an obsessive way, it’s because the holiday season is magical, no matter how you celebrate or if you celebrate. The music, the drinks, the snow, the lights, the food, the gifts, The Miracle (or Miracles depending on who you ask), all make for the perfect way to romanticize a month in the calendar year.
Getting back to what I’ve realized. I’ve realized that it isn’t the meaning of Christmas at all. It’s the satire. It’s the spirit that goes into the celebration. It’s the moments, not the actions or material aspects. I don’t remember the Christmas Day services or what was in our potato salad. I remember anxiously cuddling in bed with my sister on Christmas Eve, waiting up at night and spying on my parents or trying to catch Santa Claus, running in the morning to see the presents tumbling over, although I knew there were socks and ugly Christmas sweaters there as well. I remember all the kids in my neighborhood being off and being able to play uninterrupted all day long. I remember the phone calls to relatives far away and gifts and cards coming by mail. I remember. That’s what is important… the memories.
Now, instead of “this is the way we did it in our house and we have to do it that way,” my family traditions will be created with memories. It doesn’t matter if every year is the same. What matters is that every year is memorable. I can’t recreate Christmas in Munich. My family isn’t here. My mom still refuses to leave her home during the holidays and my partner had his own traditions. Besides, I’m used to it. I’ve been celebrating Christmas is Germany since I was a child. Well, kind of.
So this holiday season, no matter how you celebrate make it memorable. I know our Weinukkah will be.
Jordan Sapir, mother of two glitter-laden girls, 1 and 3, studied Journalism and International Political Science in NYC, a place she once called home. She can slaughter five languages fluently. She has worked in a newsroom or two, walked a catwalk or three, and is all for an impromptu adventure. Having traded in her Prada for pretzels, the founder of Über Moms lives in Munich, where she is a stay at home mom and studying to become a certified nutritionist. She is a mommy on a mission and wants to help fellow mothers raise healthy happy families, and beat a PR here and there.