I may have mentioned before that I am a therapist? One of the beautiful things about being a therapist is that I actually learn a lot from my clients. I am given the powerful and sacred opportunity to sit with another human during their lightest and darkest hours. My job allows me to learn about human nature and apply it to my own life. Kind of a nice bonus, isn’t it?
Today, in a group I ran, I brought the topic of “Traditions and Rituals” to the literal and figurative table. If I bring a topic to a group, I am always inspired by the season and what better time of year than the holiday season to talk about traditions? Plus, I am a true believer in tradition and ritual as an important way to honor the past, celebrate your family and friends, and connect to future generations.
As the importance of traditions were discussed, I had the opportunity to think about my own family traditions and, more specifically, how they have changed as our family has changed and grown. As new members enter your family and older members depart, traditions must change to fit your new family system. This can happen with many aches and pains as you fight for the traditions that connect you solidly to your youth. My parent’s divorce was the first time I remember this happening and was particularly difficult because it was not in my control. I had to go to my dad’s house now for a celebration and he wasn’t there on Christmas morning for the tradition of ushering us blindfolded by the tree and into the kitchen in order to make us eat breakfast before presents were opened.
Marriage was probably the most difficult transition because it meant less time with my family and their traditions and more time with another family whose traditions made me feel like I had just landed on a new planet and the natives were feeding me chocolate-covered worms (it was more like kielbasa and pierogies, but still…). Now I have my own daughter and, while things are again changing, my husband and I get to meld our traditions into a beautiful experience to give her on holidays and special occasions.
In a way, I feel like I have come full-circle and I am back to being that child again and experiencing the holidays in a way that feels good on my skin. The feelings of exhilaration and suspense and excitement and even the calm, couch-filled let down of when it is all over – they are back! As I asked my clients today to look at how they can re-create their own traditions that most have let go of long ago, I realized how lucky I am to have family and friends that have weathered the pains of change with me and have somehow managed to still fit nicely into my traditions and me into theirs.
Happy Holidays Friends! May you feel the warmth of connection and the joy of being this holiday season!