Tradition is a funny thing; it keeps us connected to the past, to our memories yet it can also light a path forward. You do, however, have to make sure that the light on that path doesn’t blind you to the fact that a tradition might no longer serve you.
Christmas, for me, is a time of family tradition. The tree, the decorations, the stockings, going to midnight mass, gathering Christmas morning to open gifts. My sister was here for Christmas this year, which was quite delightful. We talked about our Christmas’s past and the traditions that were carried down to us from our Grandma. The tree was always in the same spot, my sister and I always sang Christmas carols for the family in front of the fire place in our matching nightgowns holding our Christmas themed candles (mine was Frosty and my sister had Santa). My Grandma held onto things with a fierce grip that, in my belief, stemmed from losing all of her and her families belongings in a fire when she was around 9 years old. So it was only natural that traditions also became a thing that she held onto. And as a child growing up and witnessing this, I started to holding onto some of the same traditions.
A number of years ago, my Mom, Dad, sister and started going to Aunt and Uncles house in North Vancouver for Christmas. Then my Dad died 4 years ago, and one of the integral parts of the holiday changed for me. My Dad had always been there at Christmas and then he wasn’t. Christmas started to look and feel different. Then I moved to Victoria and my Mom and I stayed in Victoria last year and then again this year. To keep some of the tradition alive,I got a tree both years and we decorated it with the decorations that we had when my sister and I were kids.
I didn’t go to midnight mass with my Mom this year as my sister and I got into the Rankin Bass movies and the mulled wine and I was actually in bed before 11pm. Our Mom came over on Christmas morning and we opened our stockings and gifts and then started drinking mimosas which ensured naps in the afternoon. We had Christmas dinner with friends, which we had not done before, so it’s possible that a new tradition has started. Or not.
I am going to Bali next year; the workshop that I am attending starts on the 6th of November and ends on the 3rd of December. Since I am there, I am going to get a 60 day visitor Visa and extend my trip past the workshop and see explore Bali and the areas around, like Lombok which is a 2 hour boat ride from Bali. I’ve kept in mind that I want to be home in time for Christmas because, outside of 2 years in Scotland, I’ve usually been home for Christmas. The 2 Christmas’s that I wasn’t home were painful and I was homesick and felt so very far away from everything that I knew and that was comfortable. So much so, that I lost sight of where I was and wallowed in the sadness of where I wasn’t.
Then I thought of the possibility of staying in Bali over Christmas and into the New Year. I asked my sister what she would do, if she would come home or stay in Bali. She said that she doesn’t have the same attachment to the tradition that I do, so she might not be the right person to ask. And she said that she would stay in Bali. I started thinking about my attachment to the tradition of Christmas and I wondered if I was holding onto tradition for the fear of losing my connection to my Dad, my childhood and to the memories of Christmas’s past.
I’ve realized that over the last few years, the traditions that I grew up with have evolved and have adapted to change. While there is still a trace of the Christmas’s of my youth, there is also a maturing and letting go of what doesn’t serve anymore. Like buying lots of things and advent calendars.
Perhaps it’s time for me to evolve and to let go of the need to have physical evidence of Christmas. Instead, I could be content in the knowledge that this feeling of Christmas, of love and giving and connection, lives inside of me and that I can connect to it anytime I want. Perhaps I will stay in Bali and explore places I have never seen before. Perhaps I will ring in the New Year on a beach with people I just met who are just as far away from the place they call home as I am. Perhaps it’s time to let go of the traditions of my past and move forward into the darkness of a new path.
After all, traditions have to start somewhere.
Wishing you the peace and love of the Christmas season today and always,