Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Tradition

The prompt for this week's DOCUMENTED LIFE spread is: "Document your family holiday tradition.  If you do not celebrate Christmas or a holiday this time of year, then choose a holiday that you do celebrate and document that."

I have to say that this was a difficult prompt for me...  I was raised in a household that didn't celebrate any holidays and I guess I've kept that tradition going after I got married.  It's just my husband and me, so pretty much the only thing we do is our anniversary and even that is a bit anticlimactic after eleven years.  

I was at quite a bit of a loss as to what to do for this spread.

Then I started thinking about it a little further, and what I kept coming back to was how people would always ask me when I was a kid whether I was sad for not having holidays...mostly I think people wanted to know whether I missed getting presents or not...

If I were completely honest, I can tell you that as a kid, I was a little sad not to have Christmas...but for me it was never about the presents.  It was about the Folgers coffee commercial.  Seriously.  

I don't know if anybody else will remember this commercial or not, but it was where a young adult son (who we will call Jimmy, for the sake of this flashback, although it probably was some other name) comes home from college or something and his parents don't know about it and he's making some Folgers coffee and his kid sister comes down the stairs and gasps "Jimmy!" and gives him a big hug and then the parents wake up and everybody's hugging and happy and drinking their Folgers and a good time was had by all.

My DLP journal has gotten so full that it's hard to take a halfway decent picture!

For me, I had this idealized version of Christmas in my head...the Folgers Christmas...where families got together and loved each other and all that stuff.  And maybe some families are lucky enough to have that Folgers lifestyle.

But as an adult, what I realized was that the vast majority of families, if they even do get together, either can't stand being around each other and are there mostly for the gifts or are playing one-up in the gifting department or are trying to stay in the good graces of aging parents because the will might come into play soon or various other reasons that have little to do with loving each other.  Being a grown up kind of burst my Folgers Christmas bubble.

"Maybe we should view everyday as an opportunity to give from our hearts."

And as far as the presents end of things goes, no, I never got presents for Christmas or my birthday.  But it's not like I never got presents ever!

I talked about this a little during Reverb, but a few times a year, my mom would surprise us with little things...we never knew when...things would just show up on our beds after school, sometimes wrapped, sometimes not.

Honestly, I always kind of felt bad for other kids...they knew when they were getting presents...birthdays and Christmas...it was practically mandatory!

What my mom did for us was really a present in two ways...the actual present, whatever it happened to be...but, more importantly (especially as I got older and started to understand how much it meant), we understood that mom was thinking about us...that she wanted to do something nice for us because she cared...not because she felt obliged to or because all the other families were doing it and so she had to...  

I can vividly remember bringing something to school one time when I was a kid, probably second or third grade...I don't remember what it was, but I remember showing my best friend and telling her my mom got it for me...she asked if it was my birthday and I said "no, mom just got it for me as a present" and the girl asked me "why?"  and I remember saying "I guess cause she loves me and was thinking about me"...I will never forget the look on her face and realizing in that moment that not every kid's parent did that for them...and thinking how much nicer it was to have surprise presents than birthdays and Christmas.

Close-up of my gal reminding me to be the kind of generous my Mom taught me to be.

As an adult, I don't follow the same beliefs that my family did growing up, but I also don't actively participate in holidays and the like.

It totally makes me happy when someone sends me something for the b-day or xmas or arbor day or whatever holiday it happens to be... because it's so nice to know I'm being thought of!  And it makes me even more happy to be thought of.when there's not a special occasion...just out of the blue!

While I understand that some people do still celebrate holidays for the religious aspect, that's not the case for most people I know...it's all about 'a time for giving'.  And with that in mind, I thought: wouldn't it be better if everyday were an opportunity to give from our hearts?

And so, I am going to start a new tradition for myself...one where I can share with others the kindness and generosity my Mom showed me as a kid.  Whether with a physical present or the act of being present with someone, I want to be able to show others that they are in my heart and on my mind whatever day of the year it happens to be.


  1. Sweet Red Clover, how this post resonates for me...particularly the part where you describe how families REALLY are when they get together for this holiday. It's something I witness almost every year with a particular group of people (who are not MY family, and of which I wrote about in 'Biting Back') and these people are Jewish, celebrating "Christmas", but because it is in the spirit of which you speak, I have always found it to be highly offensive, or as you so eloquently put it recently: IT IS AN INSULT TO MY SOUL!
    Not to say that I have a great supportive family, because I don't, but watching the 'one-upmanship' or the false pretense of 'gift giving', which is sometimes conditional, from people who do not grasp the meaning of what is behind "the reason for the season" - JOYFUL UNCONDITIONAL GIVING JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT TO - is too much to take! The prospect of this annual 'show' often puts a damper on any joy I might get from this time of year, but I DO try to give of myself, freely and generously, to those who appreciate the valuable gifts of TIME AND ENERGY (and hand crafted gifts!) and I take comfort in this, as well as a little 'time off' at this time year for my efforts ;)
    I would be happy to join you in the "Sweet Red Clover Kindness & Generosity Brigade" for the 364 days of the year leading up to the 'big day', so we can try to make each day feel like 'Christmas' for someone!
    BTW: I absolutely DO remember that Folgers coffee commercial and loved it!

  2. Sweet Red Clover - another post that touches my heart.

    I SO remember precious unexpected gifts from my mother when I was kid. And I love this practice, which is probably why I love making unexpected visits to people's mailboxes with a little card here and little zine there. All for the just-becauseness of it.

    On the other hand, I absolutely 1007% endorse celebrating yourself as well. Which is why I practice birthday month. 31 days to indulge myself in loving-kindness. I give myself a present or two (because how fun is that?!) but mostly I just turn up the volume on the joy dial and see what fabulousity shows up and I make sure to be there to delight in it.

    I love the Shakespeare line “There was a star danced, and under that was I born.” I was, and so were you, and so was everyone else on this planet. I celebrate you, and I want you to celebrate you too. With occasional presents! Because you deserve nothing less.


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