Emi Sano
3 min readDec 4, 2023

I have to start this blog with a “Fiddler on the Roof” song…

When I thought about what I’d be writing this week, this song kept creeping into my head…

I’ve been thinking non-stop about holiday traditions since Thanksgiving. It’s been a real struggle this year as my family (external) continues to grow up and begin to really set in stone the traditions they want to have in their nuclear families.

Photo by Sweta Meininger on Unsplash

Maybe I am a traditionalist at heart. There have always been things we’ve done since I was a kid and I really wanted to continue that tradition when I had my own kid. But, I soon realized, there’s a whole other tradition I’d have to work with coming from my spouse’s side of the family.

I never had a dad side of the family to celebrate holidays with. They were on the other side of the globe (literally). All we had was my mom’s side of the family and that’s all we ever did. For my mom, it was the same for her (only dad’s side of the family), so I guess that kind of felt like it was always supposed to be that way.

We had a rotated schedule of who did what holiday. Since my mom was 1 of 3 it was easy to rotate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. We always had to meet for “dinner” at noon and didn’t eat until 2:30pm. That’s just the way things have been done for a long time. But when the kids (me and my cousins) got older we’ve moved apart and our big family holidays trickled down to just my parents and grandmother.

Recently, we tried to blend families between mine and my spouse’s. It’s been a non-stop battle of the wills when it comes to traditions and who gets to keep/do what. So far, for the past 3 years, it hasn’t been perfected yet. And… I have another set of grandparents et al. that we have to account for and should include on holidays.

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make sure we’re all happy and doing the traditions we want and I slowly realized I’m not thinking about myself and what I want.

I’m a people pleaser, and I know I’ve written about it before. I want everyone to be happy and sometimes I lose myself in that process. Now, as we’re approaching holidays and everyone is demanding different things to be done, I’ve started to put my foot down on what I would like to do.

It’s been a hard road. I want everyone to be happy. But I also want my mental health to be healthier.

So, I’m establishing my traditions. I’m putting down roots on what our family will be doing for the holidays and it feels pretty exciting. If we’re home we have little fun activities I’ve planned out for the days leading up to the holiday. If we decide to travel, we will spend our holiday sightseeing and learning about different cultures, trying new foods, etc. We’ll still visit family on the day of. We’ll do whatever traditions that have been passed down within our families.

Writing this out almost feels like I have a weight lifted from my shoulders. I know that holidays are meant to spent with your both your external and nuclear families. While I feel that it is important for us to be with our family during the holidays, I also know it is not ideal to be so stressed out over making sure everyone in your family is happy.

I get that somehow it’s become a “tradition” to lose your ever-loving mind around the holidays for the sake of family and tradition. I chuckle every time I watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or watch any other holiday movie where everyone is spread so thin they have a mental breakdown in front of their whole family.

I ask myself, is that really what celebrating the holidays should feel like?

NO. Take back your holiday. Let it be stress free. Visit family on your terms. Or don’t. Do whatever you want to do.

This is your family and your tradition, too.

Channeling my inner Elsa for this one.

What traditions have you started that’s different from your childhood? Do you have difficulties deciding how to handle the holidays with your relatives? Have you figured out the best strategy to combine it all?

Tell me in the comments below!



Emi Sano

Emi Sano is a self-published author of “Voices: a short story collection” and YA novella “We Don’t Talk About That.” She freelances as a writer/blogger.