Traditions Heal {CELEBRATE This Week: 221}

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I was listening to a podcast last week discussing the rub between expectations and reality. For most of us, the holiday season is filled with expectations. When reality doesn’t align with expectations then we can feel disappointed.

Once again, I’m reminded how we’re all bumping around this world together. My Christmas memories are warm and magical. This isn’t true for everyone.

Each December, we pull out the decorations and begin to set in motion a season of traditions. At this point, I have little expectation that anything will be smooth. December is a month of meltdowns, lies and angry fits. 

I still have an expectation that it can be something different. Finally, eleven years into this forever family, things are starting to shift. I’m pretty sure it’s all because of traditions. We’ve set in motion different expectations for the season.

  1. Decorating Day. Everyone helps, and even though the oldest kids teased about watching Polar Express in the afternoon, they still piled in the living room and drank hot cocoa out of Christmas mugs. Sometimes they sang along with the songs.
  2. They decorate Christmas cookies, without any prompting. They share the sprinkles, do their share of the cookies and talk about memories of overdecorated Christmas cookies when they were little.
  3. Cracking the code to Christmas presents. Every few years I don’t put names on the Christmas presents and they need to crack the code. This seems to bring both annoyance and delight. This year they are sure it’s graduation years.
If this holiday season is a tough one, I invite you to consider a tradition. It doesn’t need to be fancy, and don’t overcomplicate it. Select something that helps you slow down and be present. Maybe a walk at night with a friend to see the lights in your neighborhood. Or something just for you — a special brew you drink just on December Saturdays. It’s okay if you don’t have a tradition, start a new one. Don’t wait. You are worth it. 

Traditions are a catalyst to healing. And the truth is, we’ve all been roughed up by the world and could use a bit of healing. I’d love to hear the traditions that are good for your soul.


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  1. I'm not sure I ever thought about traditions as a path to healing, but when I read your words and reflect on them, I see what you are saying and it makes sense. Subconsciously I've also put traditions in place to help our family heal… guess I just didn't realize why I was doing it. I love your decorating day and cookie making traditions Ruth.

  2. Holiday traditions hold time in place. Each year we seem to pick up a new tradition. Here's to hoping the meltdowns are far and few between and laughter dominates in this season.

  3. Using your words for our ladies' class discussion tomorrow: “It doesn't need to be fancy, and don't overcomplicate it. Select something that helps you slow down and be present.” I can't wait to see where this quote takes us. I love that you use a code for Christmas presents and the kids try to crack the code. Here's to many peaceful moments (and some hilarious ones too)! Merry Christmas!

  4. The traditions through our years have changed, but there are some that have stayed in both my children's families and some, like when and where for having certain dinners, opening certain presents have continued. That expectation of fulfillment is important, too, in the classroom. It does help make people (kids) safe. And it's fun! Thanks for sharing yours, Ruth. Wishing you some silly times with the codes!