Big Expectations for the Shortest Day of the Year

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It started with a Celestial Seasoning’s Gingerbread Tea box:

“Gingerbread has been a holiday treat for 2,000 years! The Celts marked the winter solstice by eating small gingerbread cakes decorated with images of the sun to celebrate the longer days ahead.”

Hmm, thought I. That sounds wonderful. I love Winter Solstice. I love gingerbread. I think I foresee a tradition in the works.

I immediately texted my sister: I’m going to start a new tradition! I’m going to bake gingerbread every year on Winter Solstice! Or do something gingerbread-y with the kids, like bake cookies or decorate a house.

And that was Failure #1. Never announce a tradition before it has even started. Let it grow organically. Realize, hey, we’ve been making ornaments each year to put on our Christmas presents for family members. That’s a cool tradition! Or how we eat tacos on New Year’s Eve with our close friends for the past four or five years. I love that! We didn’t start out saying, “Let’s start this taco night as a tradition!” It just happened. Otherwise, you’ll turn into Clark Griswold, trying to create the perfect Family Christmas. And nobody wants that.

So here I am, 10pm on Winter Solstice, after a long fun day of visiting our long-distance friends, going to the movies with the kids, giving baths, and putting the kiddos to bed late, scrambling to bake a chocolate gingerbread cake because I want to start this as a tradition. But as I put the pan in the oven, I realize, wait a minute. The kids didn’t participate. Dan doesn’t even like gingerbread cake. I stressed about it. And as a result from my stressing, it means as soon as the cake is out of the oven, I’m going to sit at the counter with a fork and eat the entire thing before Jimmy Fallon’s Saturday Night Live is even over.

I won’t even tell you how fast I licked the batter bowl clean. Ok, fine, it was before the pan even made it into the oven. This stuff is good.

But now that I’ve done it one year, I feel compelled to continue. I have an entire year to plan for the next Winter Solstice’s gingerbread activity. We’ll hand make and decorate gingerbread cookies! Yeah, that’s the ticket!

And that is Failure #2: already planning next year’s tradition…now I have an entire year to stress about making the perfect memory with my children involving rolling out cookie dough that they won’t even eat…will I ever learn?

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