Traditions are our connection to the past and should remain a constant in the holiday season, right? What happens when we can't celebrate like we normally do? Does that mean the season is not good enough?
Traditions remind us of good memories and seem to keep us rooted in hopeful expectation of good things to come. After all, a tradition didn't become a tradition because we didn't like it, right?
But what happens when a tradition can no longer be practiced, or when it no longer fits? What do we do then?
These past three years my family and I have been in transition and finding that many of our previous holiday traditions either were not feasible or just didn't fit our family dynamic any longer. It has been difficult and sometimes sad to let go of traditions that have become such a valuable part of our holiday experience.
Personally, it has made me a little more prone to nostalgia during the holiday season (that and the fact that this time next year we will be empty nesters...). This year I am missing getting to make peppermint bark with both my kids (a 10 year tradition) and Christmas morning we will be without our daughter who will not be arriving from Missouri until late that night with her beau as well. (We are so excited to get know him better!) We have been travelling every weekend as well and have missed local parades and tree lightnings; those little things that add to the magic of this season.
I wonder how this season is going for you. Are you experiencing a loss of traditions, either due to a change of life season or a change of location or both? Are you nostalgic for the past too? Or, are you excited about making new traditions?
Either way, I thought that, no matter where we are on the traditions spectrum, we could all use a healthy dose of perspective to help us navigate seasons of transition in a healthy way with regard to traditions.
How to blend old and new traditions this holiday season.
1. Honor your most valuable relationships. Traditions are great, but aren't they all about the people anyway? Can you incorporate parts of past traditions to accommodate the needs of the relationships you value most? If not, how could those valuable relationships be served in a new way?
2. Respect the stage of life you are in. Newlyweds, new parents, new relocation, new career, new financial situations, and new parenting seasons are great times to evaluate past traditions and determine which to carry forward into the new season and which to lovingly leave behind in favor of beginning new ones instead that more fully reflect the stage of life you are in.
3. Grieve the loss of beloved traditions. Losing traditions is hard. Acknowledging your longing for the past is healthy. When we ignore our sadness it tends to surface as anger, frustration or apathy, all of which can add to the sadness we feel and steal our joy in this season.
4. Give your best effort to new experiences. New traditions are awkward, mostly because they are not our old traditions. However, a commitment to give each new opportunity your best, including limiting criticism ("this is not how it usually is", or "this is not as good as..."), helps every one enjoy the experience and the season, which is really what traditions are all about.
The holiday season can be a difficult time. This year may you offer yourself, and others, grace in transitioning and choose to value relationships over traditions.
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