New Traditions, AKA How to Navigate Tricky Relationships by Keeping Your Hands Busy

For the first time ever, my sister, mother, and I decided to do something Christmassy. 

Those of you who follow this blog closely know what an unusual thing it is for my family to do something usual, and what is more usual than sending out Christmas cards?

It’s been a rough couple of years for the ladies in my family. My sister and I battled in court for conservatorship over my mother to help effectively manage her schizophrenia. There have been lots of legal battles and hospital visits and yelling and police and yelling at police (it’s a whole story) and predictably, that has taken a toll.

But for the last twelve months, in an impossibly crazy, pandemic-y world, things have not been so crazy in our little world. Mom is safe, my sister and I have worked out a smooth schedule, and an eerie calm has settled over us. 

So when my sister called me the other day and asked if I wanted to get together to write out  Christmas cards this year, I accepted. It was such a normal thing to do.

Normal for other people, at least.

So we got together (it’s necessary we be in each other’s immediate family social bubble) at the dining room table, put on some Christmas music, and wrote Christmas cards.

My sister: Tiara… you need to not be so personal in your Christmas cards.
Me: What do you mean?
My sister: You’re being all lovey-dovey. You gotta keep it cold and classy.
Me: Cold and classy?
My sister: Exactly.
Me: Like this?

Classy christmas card

My sister: Tiara! Do not waste cards!
Me: I’m not!
My sister: You are not sending that out!
Me: (Silently but aggressively making eye contact while slowly licking an envelope)
My Sister: Mom!
Me: (Not breaking eye contact while vigorously rubbing a stamp onto the envelope)

And then my mom told us not to fight.

And it was really nice. 

It made me realize that little ritualistic tasks can be really healing. It allowed us all to criticize and compliment each other’s efforts and to fall quietly into our work when necessary. It felt really normal and perfectly imperfect. We had a great time and even set a reminder in our phones to do it next year on the same day.

I have always considered us to be too broken to have traditions. But I realized traditions are glue. They bring people together; they hold people together.

Maybe my broken family needs more glue, not less.

21 thoughts on “New Traditions, AKA How to Navigate Tricky Relationships by Keeping Your Hands Busy

  1. It’s just my brother and I that are left, but it is good we remember the family traditions. And just remember there are virtually no “functional” families out there. They all have at least one dysfunction.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. OMG! I’m dying. “(Silently but aggressively making eye contact while slowly licking an envelope)”

    I love that you found a way to find a normal, usual, everyday holiday tradition to have. I envy you that. Someday… Someday…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have no idea how much I needed this laugh! Cold and classy?! My god, that’s hilarious! I’m sending a card just like that to an unsuspecting friend. So damn funny. And may I say, I am so happy for you and your mom and sister. It’s been rough, I know, so it warms my heart to know that you have found calm and are now enjoying being together. I hope the season ahead is full of joy sans plague. You deserve only happiness and love, my friend. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m just so happy for your family right now. It reminds me that just because something has never happened before, that doesn’t mean it can never happen. I used to keep certain traditions with my kids that we’ve let slip and now I’m wanting to revive them or come up with some new ones. Enjoy all the days!

    Like

  5. This was really heartwarming especially in a time when many traditions have been broken due to world wide events. (I’m just tired of saying the key 2020 description words, mkay? Bear with me.)

    I can relate to your family, but mostly because I don’t like feeling obligated to repeat something for the sake of tradition. I might be afraid of the mundane. This is possible. But even I have small habits with family that keep us together throughout the year.

    My husband LOVES traditions, but detests the habit of going out/getting together as a family for birthdays. This is literally the only tradition I abide by…

    Why, God? Why?

    Like

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