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December 23, 2020

A few reflections on traditions

This Christmas of 2020 will be quite different than we’re used to. As we are continuing to practise social distancing, there are no Christmas concerts, festivals or work parties to attend. Many of us will not be able to celebrate with any others than the people in our own house hold. Gatherings with extended family and friends will instead take place virtually.

With everything feeling so different this year, I have been thinking a lot about traditions lately. There will only be four of us, so we won’t need to bake or cook quite as much. Since I love decorating, our house is as Christmassy as every year. Christmas PJs are welcome, but for Turkey dinner the dress code will be a little more formal than usual just to make it a bit more special.

Traditions create a sense of belonging within us, which is a basic human need. They can also remind us that there is something greater than we are able to perceive. They create a sense of awe and appreciation for the beauty and magic of life. Isn’t that something we can all use a little bit more of this year!?

Since I moved to Canada 20 years ago, I have only celebrated a couple of Christmases back in Sweden. I admit I wasn’t a huge fan of Eggnog, pumpkin pie or even turkey in the beginning.  And it took a few years before I got used to opening presents on the morning of the 25th instead of Christmas Eve. Over the years we have created our own blend of traditions. I really look forward to pickled herring, cured salmon and glögg (mulled wine) on Christmas Eve and I can’t wait for Baba’s (Tristan’s mom) homemade pyrogies and cabbage rolls on Christmas Day.

I have continued to keep many of the Swedish traditions I grew up with. Not only do I love passing them on to our children, I also find that they nourish me at a soul level and help me feel connected to my roots. There have also been times however, when I have become quite obsessive about recreating my traditions here exactly as I remember them growing up. After a meltdown a few Christmases ago I realized that I was trying to make my life here be exactly like Sweden. Sure, I had embraced a lot of new North American traditions, but I was also desperately clinging to the past in a way that kept me from truly enjoying the present. 

So as much as I love traditions, I believe there are times when we need to re-evalute old ones and allow new ones into our lives. If we are stressing out about a bunch of stuff we think we need to get done before we can relax, perhaps there are a few things we can eliminate so that we are able to simply enjoy this season more. You know those ones that are more shoulds than actual wants. As we’re encouraged to stay home this holiday season, I believe this year is offering us an opportunity to simplify and be more present.

By freeing ourselves from things we think we “should” or “shouldn’t”, we are able to tap into our truest self. After all, that is what traditions are for; to connect us deeply to ourselves and to the higher source that gives life. Creating new rituals can be just as important as remembering and honoring where we came from. 

You can develop the ability to listen to what your soul needs and trust your intuition. Allow yourself a moment to pause, turn inside by closing your eyes or lowering your gaze and ask yourself: What do I love? What am I really longing for? What do I need right now?

As you are preparing or beginning your celebrations this week, notice how different rituals or traditions make you feel. Do they evoke a sense of comfort and belonging or do they cause you to feel stressed? Do they ground you or do they make you feel sentimental? Which ones add depth and meaning to your life? 

Whether you are choosing to breathe new life into old traditions or create new rituals for yourself and your tribe, we wish you a very magical and beautiful holiday season!! This has not been an ordinary year, we hope your Christmas is EXTRAORDINARY!!

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