Now that I’ve recovered from my post-Thanksgiving daze, I have a confession to make: I did absolutely nothing for Thanksgiving. And I loved every minute of it.
I am becoming a fan of tossing tradition into the fireplace and cozying up while it burns bright.
I’m not anti-social or anti-holiday. I had invitations for Thanksgiving, but I was perfectly happy staying in my PJs all day, reading, napping, watching movies. I had chicken pot pie and pumpkin pie. Heaven. After working on Friday, I did much the same for the rest of the weekend. Had my family stayed in town this year, I would have joined them for dinner. But it was a delicious indulgence to do what everyone else wasn’t.
Christmas is evolving in similar ways. When my parents died a few years ago, the Christmas Eve tradition of our family gathering was passed on to me — which I was thrilled about. My sister and I agreed we’d create new traditions. Last year we hit on the perfect plan: brunch with coffee, lox and bagels and mimosas. Perfect for our Protestant/Buddhist family. I keep my mother’s tradition of serving plum pudding with hard sauce alive by making gingerbread cupcakes topped with hard sauce (basically buttercream frosting with brandy). No one really liked the plum pudding much anyway.
Maybe that tradition will evolve over time, as will my longstanding dislike of going out on New Year’s Eve unless it’s something I’d enjoy doing any other night of the year. I’ve hosted New Year’s Day Hair-of-the-Dog parties and will probably do so again. I also go to an annual party the Saturday after New Year’s where I see many of my friends. My celebrations don’t need to be ruled by the calendar.
My holidays aren’t dominated by shopping, either. Years ago, I vowed never to set foot in a mall during the holidays and I’ve stuck to it. I shop local, go to art sales or buy online. I enjoy the holidays so much more.
I think traditions are lovely and wonderful, and there are small things I’ll always want to do, like hanging my childhood stocking by the fireplace. But I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in how we think the holidays are supposed to be that we don’t consider how we want them to be.
Sure, we all have obligations that can’t be shirked. But if you stop and think about it, there are a lot of “have-tos” that you really don’t have to do. So take a second look at that list, and keep what’s nice and ditch whatever you can that’s not-so-nice.
Create your own traditions and revel in them. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the people you love. Including yourself.
(Originally posted 11/29/11 at http://www.alswrite.com/uncategorized/breaking-with-tradition/ )
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