Don’t Stress Over Holiday Traditions


When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first son, we began dreaming of all the new holiday traditions we’d create together. We had so many wonderful ideas that we were determined to do year, after year, after year. We started holiday traditions when I was pregnant.

We were living in Kentucky when our first child was born. There were so many things to do!


Our son was just six months old at his first Christmas, but he went to a live nativity, Coney Island Nights of Lights, Cincinnati Zoo Lights, Kings Island’s Winterfest, and our little town’s Santa House event. We drove around looking at Christmas lights (not that he was even awake for that!). 

It was so much fun. We loved every minute. We decided we’d do as many events as possible in the coming years. 

We moved back to Ohio, but still continued several of the Cincinnati traditions. We added in a couple Dayton holiday events, too. It was a very busy time of year – and it started to get a little stressful, trying to squeeze in so many activities into our already busy schedule with family. But it was tradition… right? We had to do it.

But then… we had our second son exactly three weeks before Christmas. With a new baby, we just did a few of the traditions, promising we’d get back on track the following year.

A few months later, we found ourselves in the midst of the pandemic. As we all know, that continued into the holiday season. 

Nervous about crowds and taking precautions, we skipped several of our “traditions.” And guess what? No one noticed. The kids didn’t care that we didn’t make it to the zoo or Coney Island. Some events were even canceled, and it turns out, we didn’t miss them at all.

In fact, the holidays were more relaxed, and much less stressful without all of the traditions.

There are some traditions we truly missed. Concerned about mask-wearing and social distancing, we didn’t go to Christmas mass. Now that both of our boys are better with mask-wearing, we’re back at church and are looking forward to going on Christmas again this year. We’ve tried Light Up Middletown twice now, and love that it’s not as busy as other drive-through light displays. Our kids really enjoyed it, too! And as members of Carillon Park, we hit A Carillon Christmas as many times as my older son asks to go. If it works out to do anything else, we’ll do it. But it’s not going to be mandatory. 

While traditions can be great, it’s more important to spend time doing things you enjoy together. Whether that’s taking in a Christmas light display or just watching a holiday movie together, do what makes your family happy. Just don’t feel obligated to do it all.