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Breaking with tradition

Now that I’ve recovered from my post-Thanksgiving daze, I have a confession to make: I did absolutely nothing for Thanksgiving. And I loved every minute of it.

I am becoming a fan of tossing tradition into the fireplace and cozying up while it burns bright.

I’m not anti-social or anti-holiday. I had invitations for Thanksgiving, but I was perfectly happy staying in my PJs all day, reading, napping, watching movies. I had chicken pot pie and pumpkin pie. Heaven. After working on Friday, I did much the same for the rest of the weekend. Had my family stayed in town this year, I would have joined them for dinner. But it was a delicious indulgence to do what everyone else wasn’t.

Breaking with tradition

Christmas is evolving in similar ways. When my parents died a few years ago, the Christmas Eve tradition of our family gathering was passed on to me — which I was thrilled about. My sister and I agreed we’d create new traditions. Last year we hit on the perfect plan: brunch with coffee, lox and bagels and mimosas. Perfect for our Protestant/Buddhist family. I keep my mother’s tradition of serving plum pudding with hard sauce alive by making gingerbread cupcakes topped with hard sauce (basically buttercream frosting with brandy). No one really liked the plum pudding much anyway.

Maybe that tradition will evolve over time, as will my longstanding dislike of going out on New Year’s Eve unless it’s something I’d enjoy doing any other night of the year. I’ve hosted New Year’s Day Hair-of-the-Dog parties and will probably do so again. I also go to an annual party the Saturday after New Year’s where I see many of my friends. My celebrations don’t need to be ruled by the calendar.

My holidays aren’t dominated by shopping, either. Years ago, I vowed never to set foot in a mall during the holidays and I’ve stuck to it. I shop local, go to art sales or buy online. I enjoy the holidays so much more.

Breaking with traditionI think traditions are lovely and wonderful, and there are small things I’ll always want to do, like hanging my childhood stocking by the fireplace. But I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in how we think the holidays are supposed to be that we don’t consider how we want them to be.

Sure, we all have obligations that can’t be shirked. But if you stop and think about it, there are a lot of “have-tos” that you really don’t have to do. So take a second look at that list, and keep what’s nice and ditch whatever you can that’s not-so-nice.

Create your own traditions and revel in them. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the people you love. Including yourself.

8 Responses

  1. Amy – You are a breath of fresh air. Great holiday thoughts. I love your writing and will always be one of your biggest fans!

  2. Jennifer Garry on November 29th, 2011 at 7:20 pm
  3. Jen, what high praise from someone I admire so much! Thank you.

  4. Amy Lynn Smith on November 29th, 2011 at 7:26 pm
  5. Great thoughts! I think I’m going to reevaluate and maybe next year some new traditions!

  6. Nancy on November 29th, 2011 at 11:37 pm
  7. Thank you, Nancy. New traditions can be liberating – and fun!

  8. Amy Lynn Smith on November 30th, 2011 at 8:56 am
  9. Great holiday post, Amy…but after reading it I realized that both of your parents had passed and I had not yet heard since moving to Ohio in 2005 (yes it has been almost seven years). I was just at the 8th Air Force Musuem in Savannah GA over Thanksgiving where they are restoring a B-17, and I thought of your dad often during that visit…picturing him sitting in the glass nose of that storied aircraft during the war. I think you know how special your mother was to me….she always had a kind word for anyone within earshot and was a treat to know and be around. The world is a lesser place with them gone. Love you, miss you…

  10. Lee Stacey on November 30th, 2011 at 1:25 pm
  11. Thank you, Lee. Don’t know if you knew my Dad was born in Savannah. My Mom adored you. Appreciate your kind thoughts.

  12. Amy Lynn Smith on November 30th, 2011 at 1:54 pm
  13. Amy – love this post, AND the attitude that inspired it! I think you have hit on a terrific plan for people to re-connect with the actual *joy* of the holiday. Well done!

  14. Christine Hansen on November 30th, 2011 at 2:41 pm
  15. Thanks so much, Chris!

  16. Amy Lynn Smith on November 30th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

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