As a child, I used to envy families that had religious traditions. It was probably an abundance of Hallmark movies which filtered these ideals into my impressionable mind. A, grass is always greener outlook. I can remember being about six or seven years old and asking my parents what this god thing is my friends at school were talking about. My dad turned to my mom and said, “This one is on you,” and he walked away. It was many many years before I understood why he said that and probably a story for a different blog. But feel free to ask me in person, because it is a cool story and one I used in our first novel.
What I learned over time was that religion wasn’t the definition of tradition. While religion often has traditions, it doesn’t negate your own family traditions. I spent two-thirds of my life forming my religious beliefs and traditions, accepting them and who I am, even if others might not. But during the holiday season, it’s my family traditions I look forward too.
The winter of 1996 was white. In fact, it was so bad we lost power quite a bit. Later in March of 1997 it would snow on my birthday and I would cry a lot as my party was canceled. But my best friend walked through snow which reached her waist at times, more than four miles to my house so she could be with me on my birthday. We are still friends to this day. But I digress purple. That winter we mixed up our traditional chicken and dumplings for the local Mexican joint. Without power, we weren’t cooking much and voilà new tradition was born.
We have had Mexican food for dinner, and nearly always at a restaurant, for the last 21 years on Christmas Eve. This year will make 22. Even when we can’t all be together, whatever date we designate as Christmas, the day before we gather and enjoy a variety of yummy dishes. While I’m not spending today with my immediate family, they are sticking to tradition. As luck would have it, I’ve been invited to a dinner this evening where the host will be serving a variety of Mexican food. It feels as though, through all the crap the world has thrown, the universe is looking down on me in this small way to tell me it’s going to be okay.
Holidays are about tradition. Making new ones, celebrating with old ones. Another favorite of mine is a holiday party I’ve been throwing for many years. The last three years it’s been a Sock Party, where everyone stuffs a pair of fun socks with some sort of small gift. We eat yummy food, and some of us dance or drink and often both. There is always good conversation and some kind of game or two being played. Although not in December, I’m really looking forward to the Sock Party this year in January.
Life is often about the little things, the gathering of friends, the small adventures, and things that make us laugh. The holidays are about spending time with family and friends. It’s not about the gifts or even the date we spend together. It’s about the act of gathering and making memories. It’s what life boils down to if you think about it.
I hope this year, in whatever tradition you celebrate, it’s been or will be a lovely holiday.