The Tradition Contradiction

The whole tradition thing is a blessing and a curse. You know it and I know it. Oh sure, it sounds wonderful.

“I make my special ______ cookies every year. Everyone loves them!”

“We always put up 120 strings of Xmas lights on the house.”

“It’s not the holidays without Nanna’s/Granny’s/Bubby’s/Poppy’s homemade ________”

“We have always exchanged gifts with every single member of the extended family, now numbering 159”

“So when are you and the new-born twins arriving? It so stinks that you have to switch planes twice and then take a bus to the house. But, you know, we always get together at ____’s for Christmas morning. It’s not Christmas unless we are all doing the same thing, in the same place, at the exact same moment every year”

Let me toss this idea out there: Yes, it IS still Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/New Year’s Eve without _________. The only thing which makes a holiday a holiday is the date on the calendar and people in agreement that the date coincides with the chosen event. Everything else is voluntary.  

I used to make fudge. Batches and batches for family and friends. It was really good fudge, if I do say so myself. I mean, really, it was awesome fudge. I would spend all day in the kitchen, stirring, chilling, cutting and wrapping. And, since I couldn’t successfully double-or-triple the recipe, I made each batch one at a time. Which means I would have multiple options to TASTE each batch…just to be sure it was up to snuff. Finally, one year, my waistline couldn’t take it anymore. So I didn’t. I didn’t make my fudge.  And my family and friends still seemed to like me. Hanukkah and Christmas still came and went, filled with fun, love, and plenty of sweets.

So, YES, there might be family or friends who moan “But you always make Nanna’s strudel!” The strudel which takes 10 hours, two rooms, freshly ground spices, and dozens of peeled apples. If it brings you joy to make it…make it. But if this year it just feels like a burden, propose a NEW TRADITION= They Can Make It!

Per the 120 lights put up outside? If you love doing it, have at it. If one year, you just don’t want to…don’t. Just don’t do it. Let your house be the black hole of lightlessness in the sea of sparkle on your block. NO ONE is keeping track (and if they are, they need to get a life, dontchaya think?) It’s okay. You can stop. If you resume the following year, lovely. Everyone will appreciate it even more. If not, the tradition ends. Some things come to an end. And that’s alright because that’s where warm memories begin.

We just need each other. That’s all. And some years, not even that. If a person wants to take a break, forgive them…or forgive yourself. Traditions are bookmarks in the novel of life. Give yourself permission to lose your place occasionally.

Because, if people really want it, they can buy their own fudge!  

Madelyn