Holidays and Traditions
It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us. It brings with it a mixed bag. We look forward to spending time with family and friends, blessing others with our giving, enjoying time off from work, indulging in fine dining, and perhaps doing some traveling. But this time of year is not without its challenges as well. It may raise bittersweet memories of years gone by and of those who are no longer with us. Sometimes it involves difficult interpersonal dynamics within extended families. Then there is the busyness of the season - the shopping frenzy and the crowds and lines, the many parties, the list of groceries to be gotten for the holiday feasts, the arrangements and accommodations for out-
of-town relatives and other guests. In the midst of all this, how do we hang onto the “reason for the season?” How do we keep the holidays fresh
and new? How do we develop fresh memories that can become our nostalgia of tomorrow?
I think that traditions can help us with this. But it’s about more than tinsel and lights, and it’s not about the eggnog and the mistletoe; these are the trappings of our traditions, but not their essence. If we take the time and energy to dig down to the core of our traditions, we will discover the truth about them – we will either find empty rituals, or we will realize anew what gives them meaning, and we will see how the practice of them can continue to enrich our lives.
Here are three suggestions for how to make the most of traditions this holiday season.
Evaluate. When in doubt, throw it out. If the ornament has lost its luster, get rid of it. If no one likes the recipe, don’t prepare it. Each year, we do some things that we’ve always done, and we’ve done them for so long that we can’t even remember why we did them in the first place. If these practices give us anything, even the warmth of familiarity, let’s hang on to them. But if they have become just one more thing to do on an already too long to-do list, maybe it’s time to discard them along with the decorations that have become chipped with age, or have simply worn out.
Innovate. Make old things new. Take those cherished activities that have held the most meaning and enjoyment for you over the years, and find ways to breathe fresh life into them. Come up with different ways to celebrate the same traditions. Whatever the activities are that you hold most
dear, they can become even more precious to you with a little revision and innovation.
Re-Create. If you haven’t done it, then try doing it. Look for new customs to observe, create memories that you don’t yet have.
Whatever you discover as you unwrap your holidays this year, try it on and make it your own.
Blessings and Happy Holidays!