Traditions That Evolve

Traditions That Evolve

By Nicole L. Gill, CouncilMag.com

When I was in New York for Thanksgiving, my mom, aunt and I took a break from Hallmark Christmas movies and put our own spin on a tradition my grandfather started years ago. When I returned to Virginia, this line from Hallmark’s “Reunited at Christmas” stood out: “Traditions are the stories that families write together.” By continuing my grandfather’s tradition, we were writing another chapter in our family’s story.

Throughout childhood, my family’s Christmas traditions involved going to Christmas Eve service and then going to my grandparents’ house where, with my grandparents’ dear friends, we laughed, ate shrimp platters from Red Lobster, listened to Nat King Cole and created enough memories to last a lifetime.

A seafood platter from Red Lobster at my grandparents’ home, circa mid-1980s. Photos from the Nicholls & Gill families.

A seafood platter from Red Lobster at my grandparents’ home, circa mid-1980s. Photos from the Nicholls & Gill families.

The gifts surround the tree at my brother’s house.

The gifts surround the tree at my brother’s house.

On Christmas Day, my brother, David, and I would open gifts at home with our parents (see photo above), then go to my grandparents’ house for dinner. After dinner, we would pile into cars to go to the home of my grandparents’ friends for more laughter, food and memories. Those were great times.

When my grandparents moved to Florida, we thought we lost our Christmas tradition. Things were so different – there were no more shrimp platters, no more listening to Nat King Cole. We had to find a new tradition. And eventually, we did.

Now that my brother has a family of his own, he and my sister-in-law host Christmas dinner. It’s a true family affair as my nieces entertain us. In 2015, when they were 6 and 4, they sang Adele’s “Hello.” They were timid at first, but by the chorus, they were singing at full voice.

Today, Christmas is the blended family dinner of the 21st century. It’s a new story that we’re writing together as a family. We’ve learned that traditions don’t stand still. They evolve, grow and become a new part of our story.

Here’s to traditions old and new. Happy Holidays!

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