Holiday Traditions- You choose!
Ah the holidays. Families and friends begin the rituals of making their holidays cheery and bright. For many people this means fulfilling traditions that have been handed down from year to year. I recall when my kids were young doing the same traditions every year for no other reason than because that is the way we always did it. We always opened gifts on Christmas Eve. We always had clam chowder for our dinner on Christmas Eve and ham on Christmas Day. I always sent out cards, baked cookies, bought gifts, decorated the tree and the house. I wonder what these traditions contributed to our celebration of the season. I do know that many of the traditions often brought on a lot of stress as I tried each year to figure out how to fit all of the activity into my hectic schedule. I don't really recall feeling like I had an option or choice about not doing the usual traditions until...
...my life changed. When circumstances in life create major changes- divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job- a new perspective happens that affects everything we have done before. Nothing appears to be the same as it was. A person begins to question everything in their life.
For me it was the death of my 19 year old son. As the first holiday approached, I found myself trying to hold onto the same traditions as if it would make my life the same as it was before. But my life wasn't the same. And then I told myself I needed to keep things as much the same as I could for the sake of my younger son. Looking back that wasn't being fair to either of us to try to create an illusion that our lives would be the same, when the reality was that life would never be the same. The traditions no longer felt right. Something needed to change. It was a struggle to let go of the traditions as I had bought into their value. Somewhere I had believed that these traditions would create something that I was looking for. But what I found was the opposite- these traditions took me further away from what I was searching for - me.
Let's look at the meaning of traditions:
Tradition: the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice (http://dictionary.reference.com)
This means that as we hold onto holiday traditions, we buy into the idea that our ancestors had the answers about how to celebrate the holidays. We buy into a right and wrong way to celebrate dependent on who and where we came from. I am not about dismissing our ancestry or negating that they may have had some good ideas. My point in reflecting on traditions is to look at how are they serving me now.
Is there an expectation that comes with holding onto a tradition? An example might be; People are expecting me to send out greeting cards. If I don't they will be disappointed. Is this even true? Are you sending cards to keep people happy or are you sending cards because you really like sending them and they are a way for you to stay connected? The choice is yours.
The beauty of being empowered is to be able to make a choice that works for you and the life you are creating without judging others for the choices they make. And if you are an empowered parent you also include your kids in on what they would like to create. If you struggle with letting go and doing something different, you may ask some questions about that. What are you afraid you might lose if you do something different? I wonder more about what I am missing by always doing things the same?
It doesn't have to take a life changing event for one to begin to open up to new ways of celebrating. I don't live in regrets of having lived all those years stressed out over how to do the holidays so that everyone would be happy. I am grateful to now live each day as a gift to create a life of choice and possibility.
Please share your insights about traditions below.
Wishing you and your family the joy of creativity this holiday season.
Mary offers more parenting tips in her book Empowered Parents Empowering Kids. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary shares her desire to create different possibilities for families and individuals who are looking to live a more conscious and aware lifestyle. BE YOU Parenting is for parents who want to BE all that they truly BE and to allow their kids the same privilege.