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Christmas Traditions with a Loved one in Prison

Growing up in a large family, one of my favorite memories is of our Christmas traditions.

We made dozens of cut-out cookies, batches of sweet caramels, pounds of chocolatey fudge, and bags of party mix in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Then, every Christmas eve, we each opened one gift—new pajamas.

The next morning, the traditions continued.  We all had to enter the living room at the same time. It was a magical moment to see all of the gifts under the tree and on our individual chairs we had set out the night before.  Mom stayed up late Christmas Eve making our traditional breakfast- tea rings. We opened our presents while the Tea Rings baked.  The aroma of that homemade sweet dough stuffed with walnuts, butter, and cinnamon filled the air.  Laughter, talking, and screams of delight mixed with the rustle of paper heard throughout our home.  No matter what else changed— we always found new pajamas under the tree on Christmas Eve; and delicious Tea Rings freshly baked for Christmas breakfast.

As time passed, many things changed for our family.

The memories of the evening pajamas and morning meal are carried in each of our hearts.  Those traditions helped bind us together as a family.

I know this is a hard season for you.  Your husband or loved one is in prison and nothing feels the same.  It is difficult to find the energy to continue your Christmas traditions, but you must. If you have not started any traditions for your family, it is time to start something.  There are so many traditions you can find by asking others what they do, looking on line, or remembering what your family did as you grew up.  Choose your favorite ones and weave them into your family celebrations.

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Keep your family traditions alive

Keeping traditions will help you keep the focus on your family instead of on the loss of having your husband in prison.  As much as you can, build beautiful memories for your children to carry with them into their futures.  These moments remind them that having a parent in prison doesn’t define them.  It is just an event, a situation, they are facing. Traditions are a great way to keep your family connected as well.

Look for ways to include your husband in the family traditions.  Perhaps he can write a letter to be read out loud on Christmas Eve or Morn; as well as call and join you in singing your favorite Christmas Carols on speaker phone; you can plan a special Christmas prison visit to play your favorite game or tell the Christmas story together.  There are so many ways to ensure your entire family is included in special Christmas memories.

What you do is not the important thing—Doing something is what is important. You are building a legacy for your family.  Christmas traditions will carry your family into a future filled with warm memories in spite of the pain of the imprisonment.

I am rooting for you!