When is it important to keep family traditions, and when do you need to let them go?

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Christmas Day has always been a day that I treasured, and it will always be so special to me. Our Christmas Day routine is a tradition that I hold dear to my heart, but this year I am faced with the possibility that this beautiful tradition is about to change and it saddens me incredibly. But I can’t help but wonder, do I simply need to let go?

Our family is a large bunch so it can be difficult to get us all together, but luckily we go all out at Christmas time and it is the one time every year we know we’ll all be together. Our family does the same thing every single year – everyone comes to our house mid-morning, we put on a big Christmas Day lunch that puts everyone into a food (and alcohol) coma. We sit on the deck and enjoy each other’s company before our annual game of street cricket with the neighbours and then a late afternoon swim in the pool. We drink, eat, talk and laugh far too much but it is always wonderful.

I grew up doing the same thing at my grandparents house so the family Christmas Day has been a tradition that I’ve lived with my whole life. But, recently discussion in the family makes me think that things have to change – even though I don’t want them to.

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I have three children: two daughters and one son. They are all married now, my son being the youngest and they all have children. My daughter-in-law has been around the family for close to a decade, firstly as a friend and then as a partner. She has known about our family traditions the whole time, but now she feels they need to change. While celebrating a Father’s Day picnic with some of the family last month, she announced that she thinks we should go to the beach and spend a “real” Aussie Christmas with a barbecue, some sand and some surf. She told me that she thinks the way we do it now is too much effort and it would be more pleasant for everyone if we were at the beach.

I was a little taken back by her feelings. While I am completely open to suggestions about how we can integrate family traditions with others traditions, I feel a little put down that she wants to disrupt something we’ve done for so many years. I ask each of the kids to bring one dish. John (my husband) and I do the rest of the work. We set up the house and decorate it, we prepare the rest of our three-course lunch and we happily supply all of the grog, although the kids always bring extra in fear of running out! But the thing I don’t understand is that I love doing all of this. I love the privilege of being able to provide for the family and bring everyone together and being quite frank, I don’t want this to be something that changes until I am too debilitated to keep doing it.

But am I being unfair in not wanting my daughter-in-law to shake everything up? I understand that sometimes something new and exciting needs to happen, but is this one of those scenarios?

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My daughter who was at the Fathers Day picnic told my other daughter and they both came to me privately and said they don’t feel like anything needs to change. But I also don’t want my daughter-in-law to feel like she doesn’t have a say in what we do as a family. So where do I go?

When is it important to keep family traditions, and when do you need to let them go?

Tell us in the comments below, have you had to make a decision like this? Would you give up your longstanding family traditions because one person has requested it?