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The Mom Stop column: Cherished holiday traditions change with times

Lydia Seabol Avant
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Cheboygan Daily Tribune

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

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Every December, a few weeks before Christmas, my kids will gather around a table with their neighborhood friends to decorate holiday cookies and listen to Christmas music while the moms visit with each other.

It’s a tradition that we inherited when we moved to our old neighborhood - a gathering held long before I had children, but one we quickly adopted. We hosted the first neighborhood kids “cookie decorating” party when our first born was only 8-months-old. She was too young to eat a cookie, let alone decorate one, but more often than not, for the 14 years that we lived in that neighborhood, we hosted the cookie decorating party at our home.

It was a tradition that came to us when we moved to the old neighborhood, but a cherished one that became something we all looked forward to, something that marked the start of the Christmas season.

And yet we find ourselves, in 2020, unable to gather in groups or hold parties safely. And because my family moved this fall, we also find ourselves in a new home in a different neighborhood.

My 9-year-old son asked me about the cookie party when he and my 5-year-old daughter were helping me put up lights outside our new house after Thanksgiving.

“When are we going to decorate the cookies?” he asked.

His little sister got excited, too.

I hesitated. Although we still own our old house in the old neighborhood, I knew there would be no cookie party there this year because of COVID.

“We can make rosettes this weekend,” I suggested, referring to the fried sugared cookies that we make each year, a family tradition.

“YES! Rosettes!” my son said excitedly.

“But what about the cookies with the icing, with our friends?” my daughter replied.

Unfortunately, 2020 has meant a lot of changes for all of us, including working and going to school “virtually” from home, not being able to go out to eat like we used to or socialize as we like. When it comes to the holidays, it’s also meant we can’t necessarily gather with our extended family or friends like we are used to or have holiday parties that we hold dear. But that doesn’t mean we can’t alter our traditions a bit or start new ones.

“We’ll decorate cookies,” I told them, brainstorming about how to make it special.

Last week, I picked up the undecorated sugar cookies from our favorite bakery, like I always have, and I set them out on our new kitchen island along with sprinkles and small bowls of colored icing. I laid out Christmas plates, made glogg, a Norwegian holiday cider, and put out our rosettes to snack on. My kids gathered round to decorate the cookies, along with the two kids from next door, who we have become close friends with and whose family we’ve adopted into our “COVID bubble.”

It wasn’t the large neighborhood party that we are used to. We didn’t decorate platters upon platters of cookies. But my kids were happy and I was too.

New traditions aren’t always a bad thing.

Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com.