It seems these days, that no matter what the subject, we have become very polarized. I have seen people write about how critical holiday traditions, how they are the foundation of a happy home, good children, and peace on earth. They go on to criticize anyone that does not see how the “stability” of traditions makes the world go ’round. On the other end of the spectrum we have the mold breakers. Those that thing traditions are the bane of their existence. They will even point out some less than stellar traditions that they do not believe are important to “prove” their points.
Now you can say I am wishy-washy, non-committal, or pandering because I believe that both sides are absolutely right, and at the same time both sides are dead wrong. This is yet another example of where the use of words like “always” and “never” generally wind up proving that they are wrong because nothing is absolute.
Traditions generally are supposed to become so because they are enjoyed. For many years, when I was young, on the night we put up the Christmas Tree, we would have homemade Lentil Soup and Pizza. Baking cookies with both my mom and my grandmother were tings that I looked forward to doing every year. When my grandfather was alive, Bacala (salted cod) was always on the New Year’s Day menu because it was one of his favorite dishes. I picked these three in particular, because while they were enjoyed at the time, things changed. When making pizza dough was no longer worth the time and effort since putting up the tree was less of an event as my sister and I got older. Trying to organize times to bake with my mom got harder and eventually my grandmother stopped baking. Bacala is a lot of work to prepare, so when my gradfather passed, we stopped making Bacala. They stopped being traditions when the pleasure we got from them ended.
And that is, to me, the key. When it is no longer something that is enjoyed, then it is time to put an end to it. It is time to end a tradition when the only reason you have for continuing it is, “that is what we have always done.” When you accept change, you open yourself up to creating a new tradition that you can enjoy instead of one that brings on nothing but dread. When you do so, you will find less reasons to dread any part of the holidays.
I should also point out though, just because you may not like a particular tradition, does not mean it is wrong. This is where the judgemental critic makes life miserable for everyone. Elf on the Shelf, Green Bean Cassarole, and Fruit Cakes (just as a few select examples) all have something in common. They are soundly ridiculed each and every holiday season. And while, I am no fan of any of those things, I remember that I wouldn’t appreciate it if someone decided to knock one of my family’s traditions, so what would give me the right to make fun of what brings joy to someone else? Who died and left you in charge of what other people are “allowed” to have as a tradition? It is a good time to check your ego at the door.
So to sum it up, embrace the holiday traditions you like, unshackle yourself from those you don’t and respect the traditions of others as much as you would expect them to respect yours. It will make getting through the holidays so much less of a chore.