We are winding up the holiday season and I have been thinking on tradition lately. What works, what doesn’t, why it so important to us, and how to let go of it. So lately, I keep bumping up against tradition, my friends share their traditions, my family talks about ours, it seems to be very prevalent right now. And so many things have changed that I don’t even know which traditions are left. Is that good or bad?
Let’s just talk Christmas for a minute. Traditionally my family celebrates on Christmas eve. My family gathers, we eat and exchange gifts. I do love that tradition (so I guess I have one), but the feel of that has changed over the years. My family is small, we have no children, the excitement level is way calmer. But we love each other and we want that sharing to happen. However, all the traditional food we used to make for the dinner, gone. This year we had Mexican food, it was wonderful. Easy, everyone loves it and its healthy. Is it a new tradition? Maybe….. I know we had fun, I know we laughed, I know we shared gifts and love with each other. I know it felt good to all of us to share
the evening. I think that was enough. We are evolved into a new way of coming together. All we really want is to be together.
Everything changes with time, and traditions can either be a beautiful coming together or a expectation that no longer serves our well being. When tradition changes to expectation or obligation, we need to make an adjustment. As beautiful as some of traditions are sometimes holding them up is forced and feels sad to me. My holiday season is totally different than 20 years ago. And I had expectations on how I wanted that to play out in my life. My family was supposed to be bigger, I was supposed to have grandchildren, I was supposed to have a partner, we are all supposed to share large Christmas Eve’s and Christmas day dinner. Traditional dishes, Grandma’s stuffing, my other Grandmas duck. The smells filling the house. Much singing, cooking, laughter, all of that was supposed to happen every year. It would be tradition.
Fast forward to my life now. Every year my sister and I go to this little lighted parade. This year for some reason she did not go. I went with other friends, had fun, enjoyed myself. At first I said to myself “but we always go”, then I realized things change. I can change with it and have fun, or I can be miserable. Maybe we will get back to it and this will be the year we didn’t go. Or maybe that is just over and I can make it into something new that fits my life now. On my sisters birthday this year we baked cookies for Christmas. That could be a nice new tradition, or maybe it was simply the perfect day, a one time thing. I can be okay with that. Traditions are built around time and circumstance. Last year a friend of mine and I spent part of New Years day walking out at the lake. This year we plan to do the same. Is this becoming tradition? Maybe. If we are still doing it in 5 years, then yes, this is our tradition. But if in 5 years one of us has moved, circumstances have changed, whatever, that does not take away from this time. We should both be celebrating the New Year in the new way, while still remembering and honoring our times together.
“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.― Gustav Mahler