In my parenting class, Marti, my instructor (love her!), mentioned that the Winter Holidays would be an ideal way for families to share traditions and certain rituals that everyone can cherish and enjoy together. However, in most cases it is also the most forced and stressful times a family can spend together. She also shared with us that her family gets together every Kentucky Derby Day instead of in the Winter and I thought, "Brilliant!". The thought of no stress, no pressure, no gifts* and no cramming in another event into December sounded wonderful. Since my family cannot be with the whole California Paton/Pellicer family until the summer, we started the July 4th tradition last year. After we block off the Fourth of July on all of our calenders and we pick a destination - last year it was Carlsbad, this year it's La Jolla - we look forward to some good old fashion fun in the sun. Pssst, next year I'm hoping for somewhere easy and convenient like Costa Rica.
Anyway, here are some traditions I'm hoping we nurture as the years go by:
1. Wearing the festive colors - red, white and blue - but NO PRESSURE to do so.
2. Gathering for the whole day from breakfast to fireworks.
3. Taking a family photo. Everyone is dressed casually, no formal wear allowed, therefore stress is averted.
4. Bringing photos/albums etc to look over together and share memories and stories.
5. Setting up a sports competition/games for all ages to join if they want. (No more medals or trophies please! Just bragging rights). Family Fun magazine has plenty ideas like frozen t-shirt contest, jumping rope with a cup of water in your hand etc.
*Now back to "no gifts". After all, this blog is about thoughtful pinches! My hub thought the madness of the Christmas and birthday gift-giving needed to stop. (HELLO?! giving gifts is part of who I am!) And so, because in a marriage we compromise, I gave it a try. Back up to November 2013. I proposed to our family that instead of buying each other gifts (even small ones), the cost of shipping and/or the cost of hiring a babysitter so one can shop to buy the gifts, would be better spent if we used it to go towards a very fun 4th of July. We're talking about food, drinks, photography, drinks, hotel, drinks etc. Memories that will last FOREVER, right? Now back way up to when I was 14 years old. I understood the concept of using my own money to buy gifts and have been giving thoughtful pinches ever since. Flash forward to Christmas 2014. It was the first year my family did not send gifts out to California at all. It was a new experience that was very hard for me to do (or rather, not do) but honestly, it was l-i-b-e-r-a-t-i-n-g!! Instead of getting my nephew a $50 sweat shirt for Christmas and sweating to send it out on time therefore paying $15 to ship it, we have memories of getting a Bonzai Bowl every day for a whole week in Laguna Beach last July. The experience was more valuable than a thoughtful pinch. Hey wait a minute...isn't the experience a thoughtful pinch? It makes sense - chalk one up for the hub.
So the Paton/Pellicer Christmases will be celebrated in July - not with a tree, egg nog and gifts but with experiences. I'm hoping this inspired you to choose a random holiday to share your time, drinks, traditions, drinks, meals, drinks etc. with your family if your Winter Holidays are stressing you out. We picked the Fourth of July because it is the holiday with the most DUI's issued.