Embracing new traditions

Scott Nussbaum

Over the past holiday breaks, I have noticed a number of changes in my regularly-observed traditions.

As my older sister went off and moved to college, I was left to pick a pumpkin carving design out alone. When Thanksgiving approached, I had to pull out an extra chair for one of her college roommates who would be spending the break with my family. I was nervous because I had not had a normal conversation and free time with my sister in four months. Between the stress of starting junior year and the new home my sister had moved to, I was sure that we would both be different people. We had a good relationship throughout our childhood, but I feared we had grown more distant.

And I was right. My sister had gone away and found a new group of friends that she loved. I had started to look at colleges and was thinking about a new life of my own. We did not have the same relationship as when we both lived under the same roof and saw each other every day. We could no longer share our stories about the big things happening at our different high schools or laugh together about a funny video one of us had found on YouTube. Additionally, I feared that my sister would spend more time with her friend from college than she would with me. In a few short months, I worried that our relationship would be forgotten.

However, my sister and I remained the same people and only had more experiences to share with each other. I got the chance to ask her how to survive junior year and if going off to college is as glorious as I have heard it to be. She shared some amazing experiences and opportunities she received at college. Immediately I knew that nothing could challenge the bond between us.

Furthermore, I got to meet one of my sister’s roommates who quickly became accustomed to my family’s quirks. My sister and I enjoyed mocking her Minnesota accent while she poked fun at our stereotypical California surfer lingo. Rather than getting in the way of my relationship with my sister, her roommate became a part of my family, and it was refreshing to have another teenager around during the holidays. It was reassuring to hear that my sister was having such a good time at college and it gave me motivation to continue through the remainder of the semester with the hope that I would get to hear more about college life during the next break.

As we sat down at the table and my dad brought out the turkey, I realized that things had changed, but that was just part of life. My sister had gone away and grown into a different person, but she was still a part of my family and nothing could change that.

One day, I will leave my parents and have my own experiences as an individual. I’ll become my own person and have different experiences that lead me in a different direction, but I’ll always be part of a family that links me back to the simplest of times.

I encourage everyone to take this holiday season as an opportunity to experience your family as it never will be again. Take the free time as a chance to catch up on relationships and experiences because by the next holiday, they will have changed. School can be stressful and get in the way of spending time with relatives, so break is an opportune time to cash in on some overdue bonding.

Relish the time that you spend with family in the present, and enjoy the traditions your family has this winter break.