The holidays, I suppose, is the perfect time to address this subject on graciousness. While various families and acquaintances have a myriad of traditions around holidays, it is common for many families to adhere to those traditions every year throughout their lifetimes without much change. As we age, however, that can sometimes begin to change. Once our own children begin having their children, but especially when grandchildren have children, the long standing holiday traditions that we've built up begin to crumble apart & leave us feeling at a loss as to what to do with ourselves.
First, it's important to note that this is a very real & very normal part of the aging process. There is no need to see it as an affront to us personally, this “changing of the guard”. There reaches a point when we can no longer do the things that we used to be able to do. This could include trekking through the snow & ice in sub-zero temperatures to get a Christmas tree to trim, or making a meal fit for a king that will serve at least 50, and insisting on using all the finest china that needs to be hand-washed afterward. There is a point in life when our physical bodies are not up for the monumental tasks of some of the traditions we've set up.
Second, it's okay to be a bit nostalgic about it. These traditions do not encompass what the entire holiday is about, but they are certainly things that we've looked forward to and done for many years. In some cases, the traditions have helped glue our families together when the circumstances of life are trying to tear us apart. Nostalgia is good. It helps soften the edges of the harsh world we live in & give us hope for a brighter future.
Third, it's also okay to admit that while we have these feelings of nostalgia, we're physically and/or mentally unable to continue to carry on the traditions as we've known them in the past. This is admitting to changes that have occurred in us, not necessarily to weakness, but to changes that naturally occur with the passage of time.
All of these changes can be difficult to process, and some of the changes may come before we are expecting them. Our children may go away to spend time with their grandchildren instead coming to visit us. With the arrival of spouses & children, other aspects of our tradition may need to be graciously set aside or arranged differently in order to incorporate traditions that are important to those loved ones who are new to the family.
If all of this talk of changing traditions has made you sad & long for days of old, take this time to contemplate what NEW opportunities this may afford you. Could you make new traditions of your own? Could you go and help those in need in a way that you've never had time to do before? Could you arrange a food drive for a food shelf? Could you serve in a soup kitchen? Could you help crochet, quilt or sew things that would help those less fortunate? Could you give the gift of time and read to someone who can no longer see well enough to read? The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. So this year, welcome the changes with gratitude & graciousness and continue to make the world a better place!