Happy new year friends! Did you survive the festive season with your sanity intact? I had a HUGE epiphany in the midst of 2 day cooking marathon in the build-up to Christmas and from that, I’ve made a decision to let go of the old traditions and start creating new family traditions.

Out With The Old

I had magical Christmases growing up. Our entire family and extended family would gather at our house for a beautiful, long lazy lunch that my mom would always so lovingly prepare. There’d be 10 kids in the pool and we’d swim until our eyes burned, only hopping out to enjoy some of the delicious food. There’d be up to 20 adults inside, eating, drinking and being merry. It was magical and I loved EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of it. Although, at the time, I could never understand why my mom complained so much about Christmas.

She’d be elbow deep in kneading ingredients for a pudding, or delicately extricating her homemade chocolates from their molds and literally complaining about Christmas, I get it now.

Not My Traditions

This year, as with every Christmas we spend in Jozi, I found myself feeling stressed, annoyed and resentful during the two-day marathon cooking session that leads to the build-up of every Christmas lunch, which I always host. But this year for the first time, I was able to recognize where my anger and resentment was coming from, and it had NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYONE ELSE AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH ME!

Every Christmas that I have hosted, I landed up feeling this way and it always spoils my experience of the day but I finally figured out why? Because I have stupidly been trying to recreate the Christmases of my childhood, in a different time at a different place and with a different family so of course, it is always going to fall short of my imaginings.

In spite of the smile on my face below, I was so unhappy and homesick in this image. I was stressed and irritated and that is no way to spend a day with family celebrating Christmas. So it’s time to make some changes!

Time For Some New Traditions

So this year I am determined that things will be different. We will not ever be doing the type of Christmas or Easter or <insert holiday name here> we’ve done in the past. I’ve stuck with doing what I grew up knowing but it’s time to start something new.

I’ve already started planning our next holiday, Easter, and we’re going away. We’re off to Buffelspoort in the Magaliesburg for the long weekend, where we will spend time as a family of 4, in a privately owned, off the grid, eco-estate/game farm. I am looking forward to 4 days of game walks, rock pool swims, river rafting and potentially even a treetop canopy tour, if I can convince my husband and Hannah that we won’t die ziplining! No pressure to recreate old traditions, just an opportunity to have fun and create some precious family memories.

I told my children last night and they literally flipped out with excitement, we never just go away for weekends because we are so flipping bad at forward planning but if we plan properly then we will absolutely be able to do more of these kinds of outings.

Longer Term

I’ve already come up with a plan to start preparing and saving now for a Christmas in Cape Town this year but instead of staying in town, I have looked at some amazing options to go away for a few days over Christmas with my family while we’re in Cape Town. If you stay away from commercialized areas, from the research I’ve done, you can go away for a few days without paying an arm and a leg.

I found spots in Bainskloof as an example where we can have a riverfront mountain cabin where we can spend a few days hiking, river swimming, rock pooling and just relaxing on the wrap-around verandahs reading books and enjoying a braai and these are the kinds of family traditions I want to start creating.

2020 is going to be our families year for experiences, for letting go of the old and adventuring into the new and I can’t wait to get started!

What old traditions do you want to let go of this year?