Christmas traditions can be flexible

Published 5:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2023

By Jan Penton-Miller


With the holidays in full swing my schedule is brimming over. There are always multiple opportunities  to spend time with friends and family, and I totally enjoy all that goes with this most wonderful time of the year. My calendar is filling up, and I have to keep checking before I add another thing, but that too is part of the fun if it doesn’t get out of hand. 

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I took a couple of days to visit my son, Ryan, in New Orleans, and we have totally enjoyed the lovely old homes decked out for Christmas. In the evenings we drive through the city streets among the sparking lights with Christmas carols playing. It’s no wonder this is something we look forward to every year because it brings back many happy memories of our family. 

This was a long held tradition in the Penton household. When the kids were small we searched far and near for the most beautiful displays. I bundled the children in warm fuzzy pajamas, and off we went on another Christmas adventure. Their dad loved it as much as we did, and often surprised us with a new display he had heard of somewhere off the beaten path. We sang and laughed as we searched for those twinkling lights beaming through the darkness.

Some were more spectacular that others, but the real treasure was time spent together making memories. Traditions that we create often continue through several generations if they bring joy, and our simple traditions are remembered fondly by all of us. As in our case the things we remember and treasure most weren’t a really big deal, not did they cost a lot of money. Making the holidays fun and memorable only requires a little thought and planning.  

Another tradition we created was lounging around in our pjs drinking hot cocoa and watching Christmas movies. Our family favorite was It’s a Wonderful Life, and we all still enjoy this classic holiday tale. We return time and again to the old days in our hearts. We love the classic feel good movies that depict the holidays as a time for gathering together with family and friends and celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Ryan and I did a new thing this year, and we may have to add it to our holiday essential list. We noticed a Christmas home tour in the Garden District and decided to while away the afternoon enjoying the architecture and décor of some of the grand old homes. It was a chilly afternoon, and the streets were filled with people  strolling from home to home. The sunshine warmed us nicely as we walked and chatted with others also out enjoying the day.

This year we plan to spend a week in the mountains together. With one son who works overseas it’s pretty difficult to impossible to get us all together around Christmas so we are going in February. Traditions change as families grow, and it’s important to be flexible.