From Tradition to Celebration

I love traditions. I really do. For the first 20 or so years of my marriage, I tried to keep all of my childhood traditions alive. Right down to the exact menus we had when I was younger. Even though there were only four of us and my kids didn’t love all of the food…and it meant I spent most of the day in the kitchen instead of enjoying the day with my family.

Then came Taco Christmas.

The year before, I had spent my typical Christmas in the kitchen. And when dinner was finished in 20 minutes, I kind of lost it. I was tired and felt unappreciated. You know, about the dinner I insisted on making every year.

I don’t remember a lot about the meltdown but I do remember it ended with “That’s it. Next year I’m making tacos for Christmas!”

And I stuck to my word.

And it was the best Christmas ever.

In putting all of my traditions at the forefront, I didn’t leave room to create new traditions with my family. I learned to relax. I learned to ask what they needed. And as important, if not more important, I really examined what I needed and how to give myself that gift.

I gave myself permission to keep what worked and to change what didn’t. Celebrations truly feel like celebrations now and not obligations.

This Easter has been non-traditional to say the least. Most major holidays, my family calls one another. This year we Zoomed. I got to see their beautiful faces as well as my nieces and nephew. We laughed together and conquered technology. And we will do it again.

I didn’t cook this Easter. A restaurant in Wilmington was offering a takeout meal with desert less expensive and better than I could have possibly made it with no prep work and no clean-up. And we got to support a local restaurant and their workers.

Traditions can be important as a touchstone, a familiarity that brings comfort. But they can also be an anchor, weighing you down. In doing what you think you are supposed to do you are taking space from what you need to do. For you. For others.

Maybe today is a good day to take a look at what worked and what did not work for you this holiday season. What changes can you make so that it is more of what you need to celebrate? Are there traditions you must keep? Ones you can let go of? Are you tending the flames or worshiping the ashes? It’s your call.