From Dr. Jane's Notebook

A Fresh Look At The Holiday Season

During times of stress, it is easy to lose sight of things to be thankful for, even on Thanksgiving. Often we find ourselves in perpetual states of pressure and irritation. Routine tasks become irritating chores. Work is exhausting, people live in fear of losing their jobs, and being a parent creates more worry than joy. Then, just when we seem maximally stressed out, its time once again for the holidays.

In the old days, before holidays became so stressful, they were actually regarded as time out from busy schedules, time to play, and time to enjoy being with our families. Before there were endless television commercials and expectations for large gifts, presents were frequently homemade and certainly less extravagant. As we approach the holidays this year, we have the opportunity to rekindle old values and ignite new traditions. Here are a few thoughts on the matter.

Following old traditions is often a way to communicate respect for the past. However, it is possible to celebrate in a way that incorporates old traditions and develops new ones. By allowing our children to contribute their fresh ideas, we allow them to feel a full sense of participation. Using the metaphor of a holiday play, rather than just allowing our children to watch the holiday play, each gets a special part in the play.

Each year, as my family unwraps the array of Chanukah decorations which have been collected over the years and then carefully stored in the attic between holidays, every decoration tells a story. Some were made by grandparents who are now long deceased. Others record the history of our childrens’ growing up years through homemade art projects and handmade decorations.

All in all, some traditions remain the same, while others evolve according to this year’s creativity and this year’s interests. No matter how things turn out, the fun of celebrating together becomes woven into the continuing tapestry of holiday memories which we have shared and stories which are retold. Although, if it were up to me, this year we could skip the story of how my marshmallows and yams caught on fire...

ęCopyright, 1997, 1999, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated February 27, 1999 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.