One of the best parts of the holiday season is tradition. Traditions can give our holidays a sense of consistency, and help us reach back to warm, love-filled memories of our own childhood. Sometimes we even get so caught up in maintaining our favorite traditions that we find we bury ourselves in a ton of (unnecessary) stress and even lose sight of what the season should be. I try to remember this when looking ahead on our calendar this upcoming month or so, knowing full well that, this year, something's gotta give. With a newborn tossed in the mix along with a super active (at times challenging) 3-year-old, I've given myself permission to tone it down. Upon making up my mind, I decided to look into the actual meaning of the word "tradition." Here's the definition according to Merriam-Webster: One thing that stands out to me here is the phrase "for a long time." It doesn't say "performed annually" or "strictly adhered to on a yearly basis" or any variation like that. So, who says a tradition has to be an annual event? The calendar? Our families? Our church? Ourselves? Everyone's answer here may be different, but I know that most of my own traditions are self-imposed. I understand why we adhere to traditions, I do. Heck, there are some that give me a twinge in my heart to miss this year. But, we're doing our best not to give up every single tradition. We're just not going to beat ourselves up if we're unable to get to them all. Or half. ;-) Next week, I'm planning on sharing what our "priority" traditions are (and what's being tossed aside - at least for this year). Ultimately, though, in our process of simplifying life, I've learned a couple of things: #1 - You don't have to give up EVERYTHING; it's okay just to slim it down. Say, instead of making a dozen different types of cookies, try asking your family for their top three and make those. Or, instead of getting folks a million gifts, go for one awesome present per person. Just analyze what your family deems to be traditions and reflect on which are "musts" and which aren't quite as imperative. #2 - Just because it's a simple tradition doesn't mean it's any less of a tradition. Embrace and enjoy these simple ones. Staying up late to watch a Christmas special and eat a family-sized bowl of popcorn? Totally counts as tradition - and it doesn't even have to be the same special every year. I still fondly recall watching some horrible New Kids on the Block Christmas special when I was a kid alongside my mother (regardless of the ones we usually watched annually), and it's not because of the quality of the show. Most of my memories involve incredibly simple tasks - stringing popcorn and cranberries, frosting cookies, basking in the glow of the tree, the feeling of choosing the perfect gift (and having it well received), and so on. The simpler, the better. So, what are the traditions you're looking forward to most this year? The ones you couldn't slim down or skip for even a year?