I grew up in a non-religious family. The youngest of four children to a Jewish woman and a Protestant man, neither of whom was passionate about his or her religion, I was the kid who had no answer when people asked what my religion was. As a child I felt a bit strange about that, but as I got older I realized just how lucky it was. My parents got to cherry-pick the more “fun” holidays for their kids to celebrate. The most fun of all religious holidays, of course, is Christmas. We didn’t celebrate it as any kind of religious holiday, but as a day for opening presents and eating yummy food. For staying in pajamas late into the morning and hanging out in my parents’ bedroom all morning playing with our new toys by the fireplace.
I am so so so so excited for my son to have warm fuzzy memories of a secular Christmas the way I always have. The question is, though, what do we want those memories to be? Obviously a lot of them will form organically as time goes by. But since this is going to be his first holiday season, I want to start traditions that we will continue every year and be able to tell him, “We have done this every year since you were teeny tiny baby!”
My husband and I haven’t discussed this in any depth yet, but some things I know we are definitely going to do. Every year since *I* was a teeny tiny baby, my family drives around the neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights about a week or so before Christmas. Sometimes we’d even bring hot chocolate in the car, if my parents were willing to risk possible spills in the backseat. My husband and I have continued that tradition as a couple every year since we met. And we definitely will do the same with our son. This year it might not mean much to him, but I can already see his little chubby cheeks facing toward the window as he marvels at these strange colored lights outside the car.
The second tradition we have decided to start is to hang up stockings. This may seem obvious to most people, but it wasn’t to me. I never had a stocking growing up – and I’m not saying that in a “Woe is me” voice, as I had a Paddington Bear pillowcase laid out by the fireplace for Santa to fill with toys, instead of a wee stocking. I just ordered three matching stockings from Pottery Barn for my son, my husband, and myself to put on the mantle every year. If E ever has a little sister or brother, we will get another stocking for her or him. I look forward to the joy on his face every year when we bring the stockings out of storage.
Apart from those, I’m not sure what traditions we plan to start. As I say, many will come up on their own, by accident. But I am so excited to begin writing a history of holiday traditions for my son. It gives me warm fuzzies just thinking about it.