(Taken from “Connected e-newsletter, By FamilyBy Design)
We have noticed that when we think of the holiday season we think of traditions and traditional activities. And it is not because we have holiday traditions. It is because holidays are traditions. No tradition, no holiday. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, et al, are traditions, as are all the activities associated with them.
During this time of year, we celebrate Christmas. And we cannot think of Christmas without thinking of traditions, mostly family traditions. Even if we tried, we cannot help but think of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, Christmas Eve church service, carols and other Christmas music, decorating our home with a lighted fir tree and garlands, dolls and other keepsakes, and having our family, neighbors and friends to our home for holiday food and drink. As Ray Charland said during one of our Families and the Holidays teleconversations, “It wouldn’t be Christmas without those things.”
Family holiday traditions seem to be a source of warmth and joy and also stress and upset, both of which seem to increase during the holidays. How can that be?
Well, the family part of family holiday traditions is relationship … warm and joyful.
The holi part calls for the day(s) to be sacred, pure and perfect – uh oh!
The traditions part is “long-established customs and practices that have the effect of unwritten law” (dictionary definition). And law is agreements/promises transmuted into expectations. And since our expectations are rooted in fantasies (i.e. purity and perfection), stress, upset and disappointment are unavoidable – built into the notion of The Holiday Season.
You may ask, ‘how did this tradition get started?’ I’ll tell you. I don’t know. But because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do. Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof
While traditions may tell us who we are and what is expected of us, they cannot be counted on to deliver happiness and joy.
So when you and/or members of your family find yourselves upset during the holidays, there’s nothing wrong with you. It comes with the package. It’s normal and ordinary.
What may be extraordinary is being aware that traditions and traditional activities do not guarantee joy and fulfillment in your holidays. However, you can use traditions as a reminder that you can bring warmth and joy to life in your relationships and families. You can bring your unabashed expression of love and appreciation to the people you hold so dear.
We wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and a happy entry into 2011.