Traditions… depending on what is presently going on in your life, this is either a warm fuzzy feeling word… or a very painful one. Maybe both?? Traditions are fun and meaningful things to create with our loved ones, but when it comes to those traditions being changed, altered, or tossed out, there tends to be a lot of problems that arise.
We humans like our traditions and tend to not like things being changed… and during the holidays, traditions are a BIG deal. People will often say that it does not feel like the holidays unless they do certain things. Some will even go so far as to say that the holidays are ruined because they did not get to do their tradition. Is this you?
I am not trying to hand out free guilt trips here… but rather trying to address an issue that steals so much of our joy and takes away from our enjoyment of a lovely time of year and quality of life. The true meaning of this holiday season has nothing to do with your traditions… to be completely honest. In fact, the holidays would exist if your traditions never did. It is because they are meant to celebrate something beyond us. I can celebrate Jesus’ birth in a myriad of different ways. I may have preferred ways, or nostalgic ways… but the way it is celebrated can change.
We need to find the balance of establishing meaningful, focused traditions that bring family togetherness and fun with being flexible enough to not have our joy stolen if for some reason that tradition cannot occur one year or at some point. So let’s go through the different ways our traditions can be addressed throughout our life time so we can handle it well!
This simply means that times may come where traditions simply need to be tweaked. You are not completely losing out, you just have to make minor changes. This may mean changing the day you get together, changing the songs you sing, changing the type of food at the table… BUT, you still are gathering, singing, and eating. Is it worth not enjoying your general tradition because the specifics are not carried over?
This one is a little harder. There are times when certain traditions must be completely surrendered. Perhaps it is because some cannot be there (marriage, new child, work, travel complications, or death), you do not have the money this year, unrealistic to execute, no time off, etc. There are some traditions that simply will die out and there is really nothing you can do about it. No sulking, crying, complaining, or wishing will bring it back to life. And yet, ignoring the fact that it ever existed is simply unrealistic. Is there a way that you can pay homage to that tradition? Can you take time to reflect over your good memories of it instead? Just because it cannot happen or be enacted does not mean that it has to be forgotten!
This one is exciting!! If you are accommodating or letting go… this could mean the start of a new tradition! Year one always seems a bit odd to view it as a family tradition, but it has to start at some point! Create new traditions intentionally… But always remember to hold them loosely… just in case! Also try to think about how easily they will be to be carried over from year to year so that you do not set yourself up for disappointment.
So which ever of these three conditions you face this holiday season, do not let them steal your joy or cause you to surrender your enjoyment of your celebrations.
I would love to hear your stories in the comments about your traditions or how your have dealt with changes in the past or plan to this year!