Traditions for the New Year

I don’t know when I stopped buying sparkling grape juice on New Year’s Eve, but I am sure I was well past the age of 21. Traditions are hard to break. And that isn’t a bad thing.

It had never occurred to me that anyone could buy sparkling grape juice whenever they wanted to…why would that be necessary? It was “champagne for children;” and was meant to be sipped from plastic champagne flutes while adults drank the real stuff. At least, that’s what my experience had taught me.

I can’t remember adults drinking champagne outside of New Year’s Eve and weddings. Every other day of the year found them guzzling beer, wine, various mixed drinks—but champagne was special. Which meant sparkling grape juice was special. And if you only drink something once a year, on the exact same day each year, it becomes a tradition of the most serious kind.  Continue reading

Redefining Our Traditions


I am in love with the idea of creating traditions for my child. Kids typically grow up to live independent lives, and parents are forced to watch as the daily world they worked so hard to build slips away over time. This would be devastating if not for the things that do stick forever. Not just who we become as people, but which fragments of our history we choose to pass on to the next generation.

Board games. Birthday parties at Star World. Sundays at Grandma Hill’s house. Camping trips on Lake Michigan.

And holidays.

Experiences that stick are the only things that matter. Or maybe they are drops in a sea of nothing, only taking form when our imagination creates a mold for them; which feels a little meaningless. If I am going to exist in the world I only need to decide, I don’t have to be right about it. I like to believe that these are the things that define our lives and that they do matter- but they can also be anything we want them to be.

Annually I am forced to confront this thing that unsettles me. The holiday season is upon us, and my daughter doesn’t even know it. Halloween, Thanksgiving, her birthday, Christmas, New Year’s…. nothing. Each day is the same. No anticipation or excitement. It’s a concentrated group of traditions that should matter or shouldn’t matter. But that isn’t the problem. Continue reading