Recap: we’ve made our list of 3 things that we definitely want to include this holiday season, we’ve consulted family and (hopefully) have an idea about some of the things that are important to them, we’ve chosen specific dates for these events and written them on the calendar. What’s next?
Go back to your list—in fact, take a good look at everyone’s list of favorites. You may have had a few surprises. ( I know I did.) Now, think about what your regular holiday schedule looks like. Write it down. I know, another list. Trust me. Just start by listing the events you usually go to.
The next thing you have to do is pick 3 things that you don’t want to do this year. Before you panic about this one, breathe. This may actually be one of the tougher things to do. We’ve gotten so accustomed to doing things that even thinking about not doing them can be stressful. Add in the expectations of extended family and friends and things can reach a fever pitch pretty quickly.
For today, all I’m asking you to do today is to think about it. Actually, I’m giving you the weekend to think about this one…and talk with your family. You might actually find that you’ve all been doing some things just because they’ve become a habit without any additional pay-off.
My brother told me a story about this the last time he was home. We were talking about how easy it was to just follow the leader without knowing the why of your actions. Here’s the story he told me:
It was time to cook the holiday meal and it was the first time a young couple were able to host the entire family at their house. Knowing how stressed his wife was about making sure the meal went off perfectly, the man offered to help. He decided to take care of the ham. He got out a roasting pan and set about positioning the ham. His wife walked in and just freaked! “That’s not how you do it!” she said. “You have to cut it in two pieces! You can’t just cook it like that!” The man didn’t get it. He thought he remembered seeing it done differently when he was growing up, but wasn’t entirely sure about it, so he didn’t want to argue about it. He did, however, ask why that was necessary. All his wife would say was, “That’s how we do it in my family! It’s a tradition passed down from my great grandmother—and you just do not mess with tradition!”
To keep the peace, he agreed to do as she suggested, but it kept bugging him. After the meal was over, he went to his mother-in-law and said, “Tell me about this tradition. I’ve never heard of it before, but if it’s so important, I’d really like to know all the details so we can pass it on to our kids when the time comes.” Her face was a blank. So was her mind. All she could say was, “That’s how we do it in my family! It’s a tradition—and you just do not mess with tradition!”
The man just couldn’t let it go, so he went to see his wife’s grandmother to see what she could tell him. He told her his story and asked his question again. She just laughed and laughed. When she was finally able speak again, she said, “My mother taught me to cook ham that way the first time my husband and I got to host the family meal. At the time, we were so poor that we didn’t have a pan big enough to cook the whole ham in, so she cut it up into two pieces and baked it that way. I guess I just never thought to do it any differently.”
So much for tradition. (smile)
There’s nothing wrong with tradition. I’m from the South and the Good Lord knows that we have ‘traditions’ about almost everything. The point I’m making here is that traditions should only stay that way if they’re actually meaningful to the ones who are doing them.
With that thought in mind, start reviewing your holiday traditions. See if there might be some things you can let go of…in favor of the things you and your family have already identified as being important to YOU. Who knows? You might just start a new tradition…