This time of year always gets me thinking a lot about traditions. What I mean by that is, a few years ago, I realized that with all my protracted family members and the consumerism frenzy that is foisted upon our psyches every year, my holidays were becoming WAY too convoluted, stressful (most stress being entirely self-imposed) and commerce-oriented. This is not good. This is not what the holidays are all about. So in the last few years, I have made more of an effort with each year to remember the good, in-the-spirit-of-celebrating, meaningful traditions that fly in the face of crazy-making and depressing attitudes that accompany this time of year. I would like to share them with you now, and hope you will share your traditions with me as well so we can make this a great holiday season, people. I'm always up for new ones.
1) Go be with your God in your own way. You don’t have to be “religious” to get into the spirit. Most of my friends aren’t remotely religious, but are definitely highly spiritual, and find meaning in the season by climbing a hill and admiring the view, or finding God through riding a snowboard down a sweet run, or in the selfless giving of donating one’s time to help those less fortunate. It’s all very individual. If you’re bored out of your mind and feel nothing at church service, for God sake (literally!) don’t go to church. Why on earth would God want you there? Find a special place where you feel your spirit connect with God and the season. That is the way to go, and don’t EVAR let anyone tell you different. That’s someone foisting their own issues on you, and that’s not allowed.
2) Make stuff. My past personal favorites are homemade soap, cookies, Christmas ornaments, wreaths, and girly crap like aromatherapy body scrubs and the like. You can get pretty much all the stuff at Michael’s and/or a good health food store. (For really good aromatherapy and soap-making supplies and all the pretty stuff to wrap up your homemade stuff in, go to Soothe Your Soul in Redondo Beach. That place rules.) It doesn’t matter what you make or how 3rd grade it looks, so long as you sit your butt down, hang with some girlfriends, drink a little nog (I like mine with spiced rum and nutmeg), and focus on letting your creative self be free for awhile. Laugh, talk, be dorky. Don't fret if you have dried toothpaste crust in the bathroom -- your friends won't care. They will just be happy to be there with you. I couldn’t have the holidays without making stuff. It just wouldn’t work.
3) Get a tree (or Hannukah bush, Kwanzaa harvest stuff, whatever your thing is) and have a few close friends and Mom over to decorate it. I like to heat some spicy cider (from Trader Joe’s, of course), serve nog, and have a few munchies, and let everyone help you put on the lights, hang the ornaments, and decorate the house, all whilst playing some groovy Christmas tunes. It’s so relaxing and fun, and spreads around a LOT of warm fuzzies.
4) Go for a walk or drive specifically for the sole purpose of checking out everybody’s lights and lawn decorations. (Bonus points: bringing kids along for this)
5) Just enjoy the season for all its unexpected (non-material) gifts. That is a tradition worth keeping.