Traditions, Holidays, and Birth
Every year around Thanksgiving I start to think about the holidays. I think about the common things like what to cook, who will visit, what is the best dining room seating dynamic, etc. Then I start to think about the purpose behind the holiday. Thanksgiving is to give thanks. What am I thankful for? Why do we celebrate the way we do? I try to ponder the purpose of the celebration.
Every family has its own unique traditions. Traditions around holidays are as diverse as the families. Both the traditional 1950‘s style families and more contemporary, non-traditional families have practices and purposes around the holidays that reflect their backgrounds.
In our house, we gather starting at lunchtime, eat in the early afternoon, play games or do movie marathons into the evening, and end the night with a pumpkin pie milkshake. We have been celebrating this way for 10+ years. I even remember something similar growing up with the kids going to the basement to play with the parents cleaning up and catching up in the adult space until dessert time.
Traditions have five purposes
It strikes me that holiday traditions have five essential purposes. The first purpose is to embrace your family. To promote their comfort and give a gift of belonging. By knowing when to show, who is bringing what, that games will be played, and dessert will arrive later build a space for the family to gather in.
The second and third are closely related. The second purpose is to remind and teach our children what is important and valuable by us. And the third is to help them to live consistently with our ideals, ethics, and morals. To demonstrate to ourselves and those that we care about that we honor them and their lessons. Celebrations, holidays, and similar traditions give us a space to give thanks. Thanks to the people who have sacrificed to make our country a democracy. Thanks to our role models and mentors who have guided us through life. Thanks to those who have gone before us and made changes that affect our lives.
The fourth is to create a space and context for reflection. I rarely think of MLK until his Remembrance Day. On MLK day I am forced to acknowledge his contribution and reflect on his gift as well as the changes he brought forth.
Finally, celebrations and holidays create a space to reconnect as individuals, families, and people. To review and create lasting memories. As families move, expand with new members, and contract due to loss, so do the traditions and practices. We may miss something about the ‘old way’ but the opportunity to try something new and adopt it is always present.
This Thanksgiving I will be following in my parents’ footsteps and explaining what my purposes are for the holidays and traditions. I will give thanks at the table for the ability to express my love to the family. To cherish this time with them and honor each of their unique personalities.
My thanks to all of you too. Thank you for being a part of our team and family. May your holidays be rich in traditions, may you be open to trying something new, and may you find time to reflect on the purpose of each of these holidays.