2020 Is the Perfect Year to Blow Up Your Traditions

Let’s free ourselves from what was never really working in the first place

Amy Shearn
Forge
Published in
5 min readNov 24, 2020

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Photo: Jim McGuire/Getty Images

After I separated from my husband last winter, I didn’t want my kids to feel their entire world had been shaken up — but I also was nervous about how it would all work. No matter how consciously my ex and I tried to uncouple, it was going to be bizarre and dislocating. And that was before the pandemic even happened.

Last year at this time, I was preemptively mourning the things the four of us surely wouldn’t do anymore: watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloons get blown up, going to see Santa at Macy’s, and… some that have nothing to do with Macy’s, I’m sure. It wasn’t that I loved these things so much; it was more that we had done them since the kids were little. Those clunky celebrations, imperfect as they were, were what we did as a family, and I was pretty sure I’d feel legitimately sad about them being gone.

But as 2020 drones on, as each traditional milestone passes by, it’s as if another weight is lifted. We can all agree that this has been a pretty tough year in most respects, but it turned out to be the best year to blow up my life. 2020 has gifted us all with a unique opportunity: to shed traditions that weren’t really working for us anyway, and start fresh.

What makes a tradition

The other day, I texted a friend who has a cabin in Upstate New York: Idea! Witchy Winter Solstice ritual in the woods?!

My family’s traditions and rituals had always been muscled into existence by me. Our extended families were far away, and my ex hates religion with an orthodox fervor. So each tradition or ritual involved the four of us — just us and our kids. Many of them were slightly jokey or pitched toward social media — for example, each year he wanted me to take a picture of him lifting up our Christmas tree and carrying it home from the corner store over his head. Cute, but also… empty.

It feels like a relief to get to reset and create rituals with more meaning for the life I actually lead.

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Amy Shearn
Forge
Writer for

Formerly: Editor of Creators Hub, Human Parts // Ongoingly: Novelist, Essayist, Person