I’m breaking tradition this year.

I love traditions around special days because it gives me a sense of comfort. Fondness for the way mom built positive moments into my childhood drives me to create the same for my kids.

Not everyone can look back on holidays and birthdays with a smile. Looking to future significant days means remembering pain and heart ache.

As I looked back at my own Facebook memories for this day, the pain of last year flooded in. The contrast strikes hard as sadness and joy mix in my soul. So, I hold the beauty of family traditions with a gratefulness that goes deep.

Part of me shakes as I choose to say no this year, because letting go has always been hard. It makes me nervous to try something new and say goodbye to the old. But the majority of me feels good. Excited even.

For almost twenty years we’ve had crab legs for Valentine’s Day. I decorate our home with Valentine’s banners and decor. We celebrate as a family because I’d rather not be out in the crowds and wait two hours for a fancy meal. Besides, I want my kids to know they are loved too. I never felt comfortable leaving them at home and out of the picture of a day of love. I didn’t want it to be all about couples.

This year, we’re all tired after a super busy weekend. We need to not do what we’ve always done just because it’s we think we should.

Breaking Tradition To Love Where You Are

Our Sweet Girl turned 16 recently and we’ve been celebrating for over a week. It began with sushi for lunch, her pick. Then two of her older brothers came to town and we all ate together at a restaurant, per her request. On the actual day, she and I went shopping and she got a special treat at Ulta. The next day we saw The Greatest Showman together. (And it’s been playing in my mind ever since.)

Her birthday celebrations wrapped up ended with twenty teens at our home last Sunday night. All week long the house has been decorated with balloons, streamers, and signs. It’s one way I tell my family I love them.

Daddy D’ and I both had guests in town last weekend. My guest came for the IF:Gathering. His came for hog hunting, and they stayed out of town with my son.

I visited with two different friends for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. I attended the Erin Condren store grand opening with my daughter and my son’s girlfriend. And we had church, of course. Love my church family.

After years of over-serving, then raising up to twelve kids at a time, then collapsing with signs of PTSD and depression and anxiety, I’m finally getting it. I think. At least, I’m making more choices to do less, especially when it comes to the things that wear me out and down. Engaging in a lot of activity with other people, plus cleaning and preparing the house, they tire me out these days.

Stress builds up and I don’t have the bandwidth I once did. Or the bandwidth I put upon my self. I’m saying no more often.

I still do lots of things, but they are things I choose and can back out of when I feel too stressed. They come from a place of internal drive, because doing them gives life to my spirit, even when I need to take a break and let rest refuel my heart, body, and mind.

I’m learning to say no to the things I do out of duty, rather than joy. If guilt is tied to an activity, it gets shelved or set aside in some way.

This year, I thought about the Valentine’s meal. I’ve been working hard on a guest post for iBelieve and a redo of the tool, Unleash: Heart & Soul Care Sheets.

I told Daddy D, “I don’t wanna’ cook.” Not even crab legs, as easy as they are. (But they are messy and then there’s the decorating and the salad and the rolls and the shopping and…)

D’s gift to me was enough when he smiled and said, “OK, don’t.”


So, we talked to the kids. They have lots of school work anyway. My youngest son forgot what day it was, which I guessed might happen. Neither of them counted on crab legs or expected anything else today.

My husband and my kids gave space for love to come from where we’re at, not from doing what we think we must do. It isn’t about providing crab legs or the set up I had planned. It’s about weighing our season and our needs and taking everyone into consideration. Not just tradition.

D’ and I will do a more traditional and routine date, which sometimes means Happy Hour at a nice restaurant where half-price apps fill us up.

The kids will get their favorite fast food meals afterwards.

We will all have done very little for Valentine’s Day and we will all feel loved.

Those guilt trips I take myself on, thinking I have to do something because I’ve always done it or others expect it?

Be gone. Be done.

Love and live well with the people your with. Sometimes what feels like love to them isn’t as hard as we make it out to be.

Love and live well with the people you're with. Sometimes what feels like love to them isn't as hard to do as we make it out to be.Click To Tweet