Parents, especially those with young children, seem to know no limits when it comes to the holidays. They will spend their last dime, stay up until their eyes are beyond bloodshot, doing whatever it takes to make sure little ones get a visit from the bearded man in the red suit. Hours of preparation will go into making the perfect Christmas dinner and folks will brave L.A. traffic, fight for parking spaces and stand in long, lines to maintain holiday tradition.
As adults, we want to pass on the holiday traditions we had as children that made our Christmas celebrations so bright. There are so many memories to savor. Some chop their own trees and wait until Christmas Eve to decorate. Some open gifts at midnight, while others wait until day light on Christmas Day. In sunny L.A., a common caricature is one of Santa surfing at the beach.
Whatever traditions were handed down by our families, it is clear that the holidays bring us closer together than at any other time of year. They are a big part of our memories, and they provide meaning and a sense of belonging.
Whatever holiday traditions you hold near, I hope that it is something you truly enjoy and something that holds meaning for you. Since Christmas and New Years are times of reflection, I would like to offer my thoughts on how to manage traditions, which is really the result of expectation.
If you are stretching yourself way beyond your capacity to tradition, it is time to reassess your holiday traditions. If you are trying to maintain a level of gift giving, holiday preparations or activities that you neither have the time, money, or energy to fulfill, it is time to revise what you’re doing. You may have to say no to that Christmas party or plan on staying an hour instead of three, trim down your gift list, or order Christmas dinner from a supermarket or local restaurant. Don’t beat up on yourself if you can’t pull off everything the way you want to. Remember what is really important.
Traditions bind us, and the result can be joyful or frustrating. We may feel loving as we share tradition, or it can feel like a noose around our necks. Feeling the comfort tradition brings is
good, feeling burdened and obligated by it is not.
The holiday spirit does to a person what no other time of year can, providing inner joy, peace and celebration, bringing smiles to young and old kids alike. The desire to please and make everyone happy, however, can take its toll. So make sure that you can find a little happiness for yourself this holiday season.
You may have to adjust your expectations of what you are actually able to do. But if it will bring you peace of mind, it will be well worth it. Make a tradition out of releasing yourself of unrealistic expectations and “have yourself a merry little Christmas now.”