As a single mom, the most uncertain time for me was always the holidays. Sometimes I had my boys; other times I didn’t. Sometimes plans had to change at the last minute because of another person’s planning—or lack thereof. I remember a conversation I had with a friend. She asked me what my plans were for Christmas. I said, “Honestly, I wasn’t sure.” I never really knew if I would have the boys or not until closer to the date.
Driving home that day I kept wondering how my boys answered the same question. I never asked them, but I was certain they too would have said, “Honestly, I’m not sure.” It bothered me. I hated that the holidays were uncertain for them as well. But I couldn’t change anything about it. It was our reality.
That night as I lay in bed worrying about this uncertainty, I decided to do something about it. I jumped out of bed, got out a piece of paper, and wrote down all the traditions we had as a family. Then I wrote down all the new traditions I wanted to start. You see, the when, where, and how were always uncertain, but I realized I could make some small traditions that could always be certain.
It’s been ten years since that sleepless night. One Christmas tradition we started was drawing names for our little family of three. We drew a name of who we would purchase a Christmas gift for. I gave each boy a $20 bill, and then we would go buy our person a gift we thought they’d like. On Christmas morning it was the first gift we opened. The gift giver also told the receiver why they purchased the gift and why they thought they would like it.
This morning on the way to school that tradition came up in a conversation with my youngest. Out of nowhere he asked, “When are we drawing names for Christmas?” As we began talking about the plan, he said to me, “I had to write about my favorite part of the holiday season, and I wrote about our Christmas tradition!” I could not stop smiling at that moment. I realized it had worked. The tradition worked.
You see, the teacher was basically asking her students what their plans for Christmas were, but he didn’t answer with, “Honestly, I’m not sure.” He answered by writing about a small tradition we started years ago that now is his certainty. He knows he will draw a name, and he knows his name will be drawn. He knows he will get a $20 bill from me and that he can spend it on whatever he wants for the person whose name he drew. He knows on Christmas, or a few days before, he will be reminded that someone in the room knows him well enough to buy him something meaningful. He knows he gets to do the same. He knows. He is certain. His certainty brings me the most joy, and that I am certain of!
What can you do each Christmas to give some certainty? It doesn’t have to cost you a $20 bill. It could be free, cheap, or expensive. It can be meaningful or fun. Regardless, start doing it or keep doing it. And maybe ten years from now one of your children will remember just how important it is to them.
Let’s be moms who bring certainty in an uncertain world. Let’s make and keep traditions so our children can answer future questions with certainty.