Bernie Petrie tells us to make our own traditions this Christmas.
Several years ago a dear school friend and I were talking about Christmas. I was feeling a bit at a loss about what Christmas should be for me and my young family. She said something that has stuck with me for years. “You have to make your own traditions – it’s totally okay to let go of other people’s”. This piece of advice has helped me to gradually create and allow myself to receive the kind of Christmas that feels good to our family.
We hear it a lot – “we always do it this way, it’s tradition”. But part of taking responsibility for your own happiness and well-being is to question any tradition or belief in your life that no longer feels good or makes sense. It is vital that we do not continually operate on autopilot. The following anecdote tells us why traditions and beliefs really should be questioned as an ongoing process.
A young child was watching her mother prepare the Sunday roast. She watched her mother cut off part of the roast and set it to one side. Puzzled, she asked: “Mummy, why do you do that?” Her mother opened her mouth to reply, then stopped, and said: “Do you know what honey, I have no idea why, it’s just something my mother always did, so I do it too.” Grandmother was there that day so the mother and young child asked her the same question: “Grandma, you know when you are preparing the roast, why do you chop part of it off?”
Grandma starts to speak, and then stops and says: “Do you know, I have absolutely no idea, it was what my mother always did, so I did it too, but actually now that you ask I have no idea why.”
Totally curious, they decide to ring up Great-Grandma and ask her: “Grandma we were wondering why did you cut off the end of the roast? It turns out we’ve been doing it without question for years, but now that Amy has asked us why, we can’t answer her and we realised we never asked you why”. Great-Grandma is silent for a moment or two, then comes the roar of laughter. Finally, giggling, she says: “My roasting dish was too small, so I had to.”
It makes me smile every time I recall that story and as simple as it is, it magnifies the madness of operating on autopilot. This year, create the Christmas that feels awesome for you by making your own traditions rather than copying actions and behaviours from your past. Give yourself permission to let go of any traditions and embrace a whole new self-loving way.
Let’s rephrase this old traditional saying right now shall we? “Tis the season to be self loving Fa la la la la…” Enjoy creating your very own Christmas magic!