Tradition. It's about repeating the same things over and over again, year after year. Pretty soon, these repetitious actions start to feel like an old, favorite sweater, or a childhood comfort blanket. Safe, secure, grounding.
For a month now, I've been focusing with the kids and Scott on celebrating the season. We've made a gingerbread house (from scratch, thank you very much), read a part of the Christmas story every night and acted it out with our Fisher Price nativity set, toured neighborhoods at night to see the lights, listened to favorite Christmas CD's over and over again. All this, to build up to 'The Day', a short 12 hour period that had better be joyous and perfect, because we anticipate it all year, darn it.
Now, the trash is overflowing with wrapping paper, the sink with dishes, there are pine needles stuck in the carpet, and I'm left pondering the frenetic month I've just spent. Part of me wonders, why did I work so hard to create all those memories and reinforce the traditions? The nice answers, of course, include, 'so that the kids will have fond memories of childhood', 'to make Christmas about more than just the gifts', 'to spend time together as a family.'
But if I'm really honest with myself? If I really examine it all closely? If I pull back the pretty nice things, what is beneath? Beneath, deep, deep beneath, it is fear. Fear of not connecting. Fear of losing time. Fear of knowing that nothing in life really ever stays the same, that there is no real stability.
It's my comfort blanket, this frantic memory making. It is a constant need to connect, to belong, to take a quick snapshot before it's all uprooted again. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I get so frantic to create the tradition, that all enjoyment and peace is taken out of it.
Case in point:
We had arranged to video chat with my parents during our present opening time, so that (again), we could be connected while apart. When it came time, I could not get my computer to work. My kids and husband were sitting there, waiting to enjoy the moment we'd all been anticipating, and all I could think about was suppressing the rising anxiety because I couldn't get my blasted computer to work.
How ridiculous! I was robbing my family of a beautiful moment, because I just couldn't let go. And live. In the moment.