Tradition is defined as a custom or belief passed on from one generation to the next. Family is defined as a group of one or more parents and children living as a unit or descendants of the same lineage. So what if the traditions and the family have changed due to an evolved family structure or a generational detour?
What happens when there is a hard left and no way to carry on or proceed with a previous family structure or aged traditions ? Does that negate the beauty and joy to be held in a holiday? If a family home where holidays had been spent in the past is no longer there, or there has been a divorce, kids in different houses, or a matriarch or patriarch passes away, are we lost as to how we define our holidays and do traditions all together die?
Well, I am here to impart wisdom and relief to those who may have been detoured and to boldly state that traditions do not define us, they actually confine us. I had parents that celebrated holidays without religion and borders - they used our breaks from school to take us out into nature to ski and travel to countries often where we celebrated no holiday at all.
We practiced the tradition of being untraditional. Because of that, I craved a “white Christmas'' with snow and trees and what was reminiscent of a scene from It's a Wonderful Life.
Instead, I married a man from the desert who lived in a non-Christian country where the only traditional Christmas tree standing was at the American embassy; and it was a plastic version of an evergreen spruce, and not the cool kind from a scene in Goodfellas.
So, I detoured. After many years of detours (holidays with friends or holidays with my surrogate family and sharing in their traditions), I became so self-aware that the tradition that is most valuable is the one where you can practice gratitude. Feeling grateful that you have the space and time to be present for a holiday and that you surround yourself with love, even if that is self love. The build-up to a holiday is often more enticing than the actual celebration, I have had those long list of gifts, and spent those nights wrapping and rushing, and although the joy of a child experiencing Christmas is unmatchable, the tradition of how that occurs does not need to be defined by a place, a space or an annual routine, but should rather be rooted in the tradition of experiencing the joy of the moment in time.
Think about what you would look forward to if you could plan a new tradition, taking into account, who was around you, what resources were available to you and, how much time you had, what would you plan that would bring you and those around you immense joy?
Create a new tradition, do what feels joyful, and be grateful for the utmost gift, that of the present moment.
This journal is dedicated to my friend, a single mother, who will be taking her daughter on a Christmas day hike, seeking a new tradition; to a dedicated father who created a new home to celebrate holiday traditions for his children and myself; and to my “honorary mother” without whom I would not know the joys of experiencing traditions that I now pass down to my daughter.
Happy New Year