It’s the holiday season. How does that make you feel? Excited? Stressed out? Some of each? You are probably very busy. I didn’t get this posted yesterday as planned because I was running around buying presents and wrapping paper. Some of these activities you enjoy and others you don’t. It’s really hard to change what you do because it’s all tied up in traditions.
Some of these traditions arise for no reason. My daughter was appalled that we were having turkey for Christmas. “We have to have ham. We’re always had ham,” she wailed. Actually, we started having ham for Christmas only when Grandma found it too hard to make our traditional turkey, but still wanted to host the Christmas dinner. But now a tradition has been born, inadvertently. When my daughter hosts Christmas dinner, I’m sure she’ll have ham, and so will her children. This may go on for generations.
You can actually pick and choose your traditions. When I was a kid, the Norwegian relatives made a traditional dish called lutefisk. It’s made by soaking cod in lye to remove all the flavor and texture. It’s mushy, stinky and turns the silverware black. It’s good for jokes, but that’s about it (“Lutefisk: The piece of cod that passes all understanding.”). We’re not in Norway anymore, so we don’t have to eat this stuff. We honor my Norwegian ancestors with lefse, a simple bread, somewhat like a potato tortilla. Spread it with butter, roll it up, yum! My husband, who is Norwegian by marriage, has become an accomplished lefse baker. Now, that tastes like Christmas.
Just like any other choice, step back and examine all the things you do for the holidays, especially the ones you find stressful. What do I get out of doing it? What do I give up? “We’ve always done it this way” isn’t a good enough reason. However, if you get the inevitable pushback, the reason you choose may be simply to maintain peace in the family. Do you really enjoy making decorations, cooking, baking, shopping, or whatever it is you do this time of year? What would you lose if you stopped doing it?
Here are some ideas.
What do I get out of doing it?
- The joy of giving
- Helping those less fortunate
- A meaningful religious experience
- Time with friends and family
- Reconnecting with people
- Sharing my creative talents
- Honoring the past
- Good food
- Helping others enjoy traditions they find meaningful
What do I give up?
- Time to do other things I enjoy
- Normal routine
- Healthy diet
- Simple pleasures without all the pressure for extravagance
- Time alone or with people of my choosing
- Other things people want me to be doing at the same time
What can you add to these lists?
Stop and take a deep breath. Is what you’re giving up worth what you get from your various holiday activities?
Take charge of your life. Live intentionally.
- The unmistakable aroma of preserved fish (minnesota.publicradio.org)