When I was a kid in a home that didn't feel emotionally stable to me, I loved the predictabiliy of holiday traditions. I gave my mother the same gifts every year (Jergen's hand lotion and a long-stemmed rose) and she always expressed delight, bless her. I needed the tree trimming to occur on the same day (my birthday) and the opening of presents to happen in the same way. I think I loved those traditions but I loved the sameness even more.
In the somewhat chaotic life I've lived as an adult, there has been a real need for flexibility in holiday and other traditions. And I'm so glad my family has embraced these changes so often that now doing different things feels normal.
For the last 10 or 15 years, my neighbor/friend/adopted sister Melanie has cooked a big Thanksgiving feast and invited all the orphans, those with no family or none they associate with. This year, she just didn't want to do it, so four of us are going to a nice hotel downtown for an afternoon meal on Thanksgiving.
For more than 15 years, I've done a first-Sunday-in-December open house with decorations, gallons of my own mulled cider, a real party. This year, I don't want to do it. So instead I'm having an informal drop-in gathering on a Saturday afternoon for folks to come by for tea and a snack and see my art and catch up.
It feels good to shift when traditions lose their ability to delight us.