Holiday Traditions
By Resna Marie Brunson, MSC 

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition or memory?  My brother and I would look forward to watching The Charlie Brown Christmas. Before there was cable, streaming, or DVR”s, we would diligently check the weekly TV guide to be sure we did not  miss it. Although we watched it every year, we sat as if it were our first time and jumped to our  feet during the famous “dance scene” imitating the peanut characters. Thinking about Christmas as a little girl and watching Charlie Brown with my brother still brings a smile to my face.  

Unfortunately, many do not have fond holiday memories.  There are those who would love to have a magic staff and erase Christmas.  In the movie, Christmas With The Kranks, a couple decides to “skip Christmas” one year  because their daughter  (only child) would not be celebrating with them.  The entire community rallies against them and insist they decorate their home and continue their holiday traditions. Although the movie is simply for amusement, it is an example of the absence of empathy.  In the previous post Home Alone, I suggested we sometimes lack empathy because we do not understand or want to accept views or traditions that are unfamiliar.  Empathy gives us another vantage point. Seeing things from another’s perspective helps us to be more  understanding and less subjective.  We no longer feel the need to “teach” someone how to experience “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Although some may have had pleasant holiday experiences, circumstances may make it necessary to develop new traditions.  Young married couples find themselves trying to balance maintaining their individual family traditions while trying to establish their own holiday customs and beliefs.  They have visions of beginning their new life together and creating new holiday memories. Empathy will give them space and permission to start traditions that may be opposing those held by other family members. 

Some have decided to do whatever instantaneously feels right and have new experiences each year. They do not want to be held to a particular holiday standard but instead enjoy and embrace moments of the season as they come.

For some, reminiscing is too painful. They no longer have the relationships (children, spouse, friends) that motivated them to capture the old traditions so instead they choose not to take part in them. 

People, like myself, who love tree trimming, caroling, lights, family pajamas, Christmas movies, and hot chocolate, have to make a conscientious effort to be more caring and curious towards those whose views about holiday traditions are different from my own. 

In an earlier post It Is Not Good For Man To Be Alone, I emphasized the importance of relationships. Expressing empathy and not excluding others who think differently helps build relationships. Empathy does not insist on having its own way but seeks  to understand and accept others as they are. 

Are you feeling weighed down by expectations? Are you feeling anxious about change? Ready to take the next step. 

Resna Marie Brunson, MSC

Leave A Comment