Traditions have been very important throughout my life, especially when I was raising my children. I work hard to remain consistent in much of my holiday planning. This has always helped create a peaceful environment in my home, even during times when my relationships were difficult.
Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies, so I get very excited when the holidays come around. That’s because some of my most cherished traditions involve food. My favorite holiday foods for Thanksgiving are creamed corn, baked yams and my homemade pumpkin pies. I believe that cooking is truly a labor of love that results in beautiful memories as we sit around the table and break bread together. When we cook for someone, it shows them how much we care about them, and sharing food strengthens community and family bonds.
To a child of Mexican heritage like me, Christmas always means tamales. Tamales are a food and a tradition in one, since preparing them requires several hours of cooking, working closely as a group. These days, I love to make tamales with my sister, daughter and nieces. All year long, I look forward to tamale-making time. We get to work together, laugh together, and, best of all, enjoy the final product—homemade tamales.
I also enjoy baking for the holidays, a tradition I have kept up for over 20 years. I love making a special Christmas cake for all of my neighbors every year. I especially look forward to delivering the cakes and seeing their smiling faces as they greet me at their door.
As strange as it may sound, I extend invitations to my exes when all the children are in town. I'm not sure if it is age or wisdom, but as I have grown older, I see family as the foundation of my life. One of the challenges for children of divorce is time—the time that is shared between homes. Because of this, I feel that I should do whatever I can to help make this challenge a little easier for everyone.
In conclusion, I would say that keeping things simple makes it easier for everyone to get along. The holidays are a stressful time, especially if you are coparenting or have blended families. It's important to keep things as positive as possible and to hope that our children will not experience the painful effects that divorce or divided families can bring.
Sometimes, we can be way too hard on ourselves, especially if we feel like we have failed in a relationship. I believe it's important for us to be kind to ourselves and to others in this process. Try to put things in perspective. Broken relationships do not define you. Take time to reflect on all the good that the relationship brought into your life. Remind yourself of all of the blessings in your life, such as your health, your friendships, your family, and even your resilience and the ability to start over.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Take time to ask: How do you want your holidays to look? What memories would you like to create? How would you like your children to remember the holidays? If you decide to take a break from your traditions this year, allow yourself that freedom. If you'd like to start a new tradition, give yourself the freedom and grace to do so.