Rethinking Holiday Traditions
Putting up a Christmas tree…baking cookies…sending Christmas cards…exchanging gifts…attending a midnight church service…the list goes on and on. So many things we do during the holidays because they are ‘traditions’. Do you really enjoy them? Are you doing them because you are expected to, or because others expect you to? The hell with that! One of the benefits of middle age (for me anyway) is becoming less concerned with pleasing others, and more about doing what ‘sparks joy’. Certainly there is a comfort that comes with rituals, but when it lacks enjoyment and causes stress/exhaustion it’s time to step back and rethink things.
Baking and decorating cookies was a huge tradition growing up with Ginger. We made dozens of petite, fancy cookies, and stored them in tin containers weeks before the holiday. Yes, it was fun then – I was a student, Ginger was a stay at home mom – today as a busy working woman, not fun at all. Sure, I still love the sweets – stopping into Quebrada Bakery for their snickerdoodles and double ginger cookies is the perfect solution!
The act of giving is such an integral part of the Christmas spirit, but doesn’t it sometimes get out of hand? If year after year you are buying gifts for every single relative, are we not really being wasteful? How many scarves does one really need??? (Well, maybe one more Burberry…) This year my family decided to try doing a ‘Secret Santa’ rather than all buying for all, much to the dismay of my 84 year old father who said he did not like it, it was not ‘tradition’. Jeez, dad, you like the tradition, but who does most of the shopping and wrapping? The women of course! We will give it a try this year and see how it goes…
Like anything else in life, I think it always makes sense to pay attention to your choices and do things because you want to, because it is important to you – not because of societal or family expectations. Maybe it means starting a new tradition: ice skating on Frog Pond, attending a holiday play with old friends, building a gingerbread house with a grandchild, or…
This week I took a day off from work (planned well in advance) to spend a day with my two grown children. We went out for breakfast on Beacon Hill followed by leisurely shopping in the city. It was fun, festive, and provided me quality time with my kids without the chaos of the rest of the family. (Thank you Tyler for taking over childcare!) Totally stress free. Pure joy. (Can’t help but point out that the three red plaid scarves were not planned, and Hayley’s Burberry handbag belonged to Ginger.)
It isn’t always easy dropping a tradition that you have done for years – maybe scaling back can be a more palatable compromise. Here’s to traditions old and new that bring joy, and here’s to letting go of those that don’t!
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So agree with you …..I did away with many traditions….the Christmas season should “spark joy ” as you said.
Hours in the kitchen cooking and hours shopping for “things” others don’t need and often don’t want….spending quality time together over the hoiday season is what really brings joy and wonderful memories…..we are so lucky to capture and revisit these memories thanks to technology. It enables us to make special memories that truly provide happy holiday time.
I also agree with you. It’s very hard to carry on traditions when your own families have their families to start traditions. We are trying new things this year also. Have a very Blessed Christmas to you and our new traditions! Love you!
What a great idea, to take time off to enjoy a day with your children. Can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holidays! You are lucky they are nearby. Many of us wish ours lived nearer– with their busy lives, and ours, those times are rare.