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Make The Holidays Meaningful To YOU

We all grow up with a certain way of celebrating the holidays, usually the way our parents celebrated the holidays. After we leave home we often stick with the same traditions, or if we get married, we often try to “blend” the traditions of our marriage partner with our own. We get stuck with the idea that “it wouldn’t be the holiday season” if we didn’t celebrate it the way we’ve always celebrated it.


As an adult, you have the opportunity to choose how YOU would like to observe the holidays. When you get married, you no longer live with your childhood family nor does your spouse live with his. You are free to create your own traditions or do something different each year. It doesn’t have to be a high-pressure, large-volume sending of cards and gifts and cooking for days for a galley of relatives you have nothing to do with during the rest of the year. You can go to a bed and breakfast with your loved one. You can take a sleigh ride with your loved one or special friends. You can play favorite games or share favorite readings or quotes in an intimate gathering of your best friends, or closest family members. You can take a train ride, or you can have an intimate day at home cuddled up with your loved one, with music playing or reading books in front of a warm fire. You can sit down with a hot apple cider and make phone calls to the most special people in your life.  You can go for a walk through the woods or along the beach.


When I grew up we always went to a large family reunion 600 miles away. It was lots of fun: everyone brought a favorite dish, and after dinner everyone participated in a talent show, we square danced, and we hiked in the snow. My husband grew up with a large family gathering as well. After we got married, we tried observing both family traditions by going to one family gathering for Thanksgiving and another for Christmas, never thinking about what we would actually like to do.  It was tradition! While these gatherings were always fun, they didn’t allow us to focus our energies on what we valued most.

Now we get together with just a few close family members for Thanksgiving and celebrate Christmas by ourselves or with a few close friends. No two Thanksgivings or Christmases are exactly alike. As a result, we have the time and the energy for the things that matter most to us, because we haven’t worn ourselves out with all the shopping, food-preparing, present-sending, and card-sending we used to do. We do make it a point to respond to all those who send us a card, but we don’t feel pressed to do it all at once. That way we can savor each relationship.


Ask yourself what would be the best way for YOU to celebrate being alive? What would be the best way for you to celebrate the ones you hold dear? There is nothing wrong with sticking with your childhood traditions if you choose to do so. But be sure you are celebrating according to your most important values as an adult in your own right, instead of dragging yourself through the years ”on automatic,” without thought. Making your own tradition is a great way to keep your enthusiasm and excitement alive and make the holiday season the most meaningful and enriching it can be.


If you decide to change what you’ve traditionally done, be sure to plan something you really want to do in its place. Otherwise you’ll end up feeling alone and empty during the holidays. Start making your plans now so your holidays will be joyful and fulfilling.


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