I was thinking recently about my post, 147 Things You Don’t Need to Do for the Holidays. I stand by what I said there. We don’t have to do it all. But I’ve been thinking also about how we may sometimes take simplicity too far. That frivolity itself can have a purpose. And it is this: CONNECTION.
As I continue my life’s passion, studying and exploring human development, I see that thread of human connection running through it all.
I was thinking about this notion, that mindful connection happens in the middle of what may seem from the outside to be silly or trivial –that even “cute” can be purposeful and mindful — when I thought of my friend, Mel, who writes at So Festive!
She writes all year long about how to celebrate with your family. And quite honestly, as I look at those amazing pictures of the simply brilliant things she comes up with, I am tempted to think that the blog is actually about those beautiful, Pinterest-perfect pictures she shares.
But I know better.
I know Mel, and I know why celebrations matter so much to her. It isn’t really about being cute. It’s about being connected. I asked her to share her story here, so that we might all have a little more perspective and purpose in our own celebrations.
Christmas 2009 was fast approaching.
Having been married just over a year, I was thinking back to all of the Christmas traditions my family kept. Decembers included: making candy countdown chains , giving the 12 Days of Christmas to someone who needed it, writing and burning a letter to Santa Claus, moving Mary and Joseph one step closer to Bethlehem each day on our Nativity Advent, having a fancy Christmas Eve candlelight dinner, and making beignets on Christmas morning, to just name a few.
I didn’t want to possibly forget any of the holiday traditions that meant so much to me as a child and thought a blog would be a good place to keep track of all of them. So on December 1st, I created So Festive. It wasn’t anything fancy back then, but has since become a place for family traditions and other simple ways to celebrate life. Mostly I wanted a place to inspire others that they can celebrate simply and cheaply–for my mom did it with 7 children on a teacher’s salary!
Looking back, it may seem that we had more Christmas traditions than would probably ever seem possible to keep up. But those holiday traditions were incorporated into our daily living and they seemed to be a way of life rather than just another thing on our to-do list. (Because don’t we all have enough on our to-do-lists?) I wish I could ask my mom how she did it all. But I can’t. She passed away from cancer when I was 15–exactly another reason I wanted to record as much as I could before I forgot.
I bet she would tell me, however, that the traditions she and my dad chose to keep up were those that strengthened our family, created memories, were simple, and spread joy to others. They were traditions that brought happiness instead of hassle and smiles instead of stress. They were activities that we asked for again and again and we actually had fun doing them.
That is what traditions are all about.
In my opinion, I don’t think it’s the tradition that matters so much (although banging pots and pans on New Years Eve is pretty darn fun). But it’s what the tradition means. Is there purpose behind what you are doing or are you doing it because you “should?”
Many traditions I still keep up with my young family now are at times silly for my husband, but I just can’t seem to let them go because of the connection I feel to my mother while we are doing them. Since she can’t be here to celebrate holidays or birthdays with us, traditions provide the way to stay connected to her and who she was. They create excitement for life and I don’t know about you, but you can never have too much excitement in life.
So yes, traditions matter. If you choose them wisely, they will create memories that last a lifetime.
I love what Mel says about her mom on her site: “I started this blog in honor of my mom, who made every day a celebration. She lost the battle to cancer, but I’m determined to keep her festiveness alive. Let’s celebrate life…simply!”
So go celebrate life! Don’t worry about Pinterest perfection. If you make perfection your purpose and goal, you’ll never be satisfied. Your kids don’t want that anyway. They want connection. Make that your purpose. Choose your traditions wisely, and then go celebrate! Be festive, and be present. A lifetime of memories, with a million strands of connection woven together, will be one of the greatest gifts you will ever give your family.
For a list of other fun year-round traditions from So Festive!, click here.
All images property of So Festive! Used with Permission.
Beautiful! I love the perfect explanation of why traditions are so important! I’m a huge fan of traditions and I love this wonderful explanation and example. Thanks for sharing
So glad you enjoyed it, Leigh!
I am an indian and after reading your blog i too felt pretty happy….we also have a lot of traditions and the good part is from the time of birth to the time of death…. Living life here is like a part of a big festival….every day is a festival…. N every
Festival is a celebration of traditions….!!!
Every day is a festival. I love that idea!
Thanks again for having me share my thoughts about traditions! It really helped me think deeply and refocus on the WHY of traditions. Yes, some of them may be “frivolous” in the moment, but I’m hoping that I am creating fun family memories that will last forever.
Thanks so much for sharing, Mel! I loved reading it!
Oh that made me cry. Thank you. I lost my mom early too and I have thought a lot this year about how certain traditions will be a powerful way to bind my children to her even though they have never met.
So sorry for your loss. It makes me ache, just imagining. Hugs to you and your littles. May you share many precious memories of her together! You might also be interested in a tradition my family has adopted to remember a family member who we also lost too soon. It’s a sweet way for our young sons to learn about an aunt they were too little to really remember. https://notjustcute.com/2013/10/22/service-memorial/