The holidays are fast approaching.
Did you order the turkey? Clean the silver? Buy the green beans, canned soup and crunchy onions for the casserole? Decide who is hosting your parents this year?
My Thanksgiving is pretty much the same every year: Wake up, give thanks, watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, then the dog show. The new tradition? We watch it with our Goldendoodle and try to get him to stand a little straighter and taller. But no pressure.
Everyone helps with the meal, but the food is second to the conversation. I love when we go around the table and share what we’re grateful for this year. That’s the core of our holiday: gratitude. It’s amazing what people share. No one records it. We trust our hearts to remember.
Everyone helps with the meal. I no longer stress about how it turns out. Our tradition? Lumps in the gravy, too much stuffing and not enough mashed potatoes. I no longer try to do perfect. Completion is my goal, not perfection.
I recently read this quote by Rachel Jonat on Facebook: “We don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed and tired.”
If the shoe fits and hurts, stop wearing it. You really can release any traditions that no longer enhance your holidays, starting with Thanksgiving.
Here’s a haunting definition for you: “Tradition: Peer pressure from dead people.” It sure does give you pause. Who exactly are we trying to please by honoring holiday traditions that feel like handcuffs to the past?
If you have to hit three houses on Thanksgiving to make all the in-laws happy, fine, if that makes you and your children happy. If it doesn’t, make a new plan. A dear friend once taught me, “A child asks; an adult announces.” Don’t ask their permission, announce your new plans.
It’s your holiday. You don’t have to eat turkey. You don’t have to celebrate it on Thursday. You don’t have to celebrate it the way you always did if it doesn’t bring you joy.
This year, pause and choose traditions that enhance your life and don’t diminish your energy supply or your joy. Do what feels like a “get to” not a “have to.”
Your holiday doesn’t have to resemble Hallmark or what some stranger posted on Instagram. Release yourself from the peer pressure of Pinterest and Facebook.
There is only so much of you to go around. You don’t have to do everything. Before you make your grocery list or plan out the holiday, pause and ask yourself a few questions:
Why do we do this and why do we do it this way? Is this worth the energy and time?
Does this tradition pass on our values or the values of those who loved me? Is it truly part of our family’s identity and the fabric of our family?
Does it strengthen our family ties or make us feel like hostages to the past? Who does it honor, the dead or the living? Does it keep alive a beautiful connection to an ancestor? Does it enhance the lives of those who are living and breathing and beautifully present – including me?
Does it bring us joy? Is it still meaningful? Does it reflect who we are today? Does it create connection to others or feel like an anchor pulling me down or back into a time that feels too painful to repeat?
Does it create a sense of belonging and connection or make me feel lonely and sad?
Then decide what you want it to be. It’s OK to make room for new life, for new people around the table and new recipes. No more “shoulds.” Don’t “should” all over yourself. You’re allowed to reinvent the holiday. Create a new guest list. Shrink it.
Life is fluid. It changes. Don’t fight the current. Bend with the flow of life, which might include the loss of someone you love or the end of a marriage or a current custody battle or the loss of your job or your health. You’re allowed to reboot and reinvent the holiday to match where you and your family are right now.
Once you get through Thanksgiving, take a good look at Chanukah, Christmas, for those that celebrate, and New Year’s Eve. What traditions will you embrace? Which ones will you surrender?
I hereby release you from any traditions that don’t enhance your life. Now you get to release everyone else.
When it comes to traditions, it really is this simple: Don’t love it? Don’t do it.