'Tis The Season of Traditions
How will yours change as your life seasons change?
It’s my favorite time of year. I just love Christmas and all of its wonderful traditions! When my son was growing up, we had traditions galore. We’d to to IMAX every year and watch Polar Express in 3D. It’s the most magical 3D movie, ever. We’d make ornaments and cookies to give to our relatives. We’d track Santa on Christmas eve, but Christmas morning was the best! He was not allowed to get up before 6 a.m. so at 5:58 every year he’d come bounding into my room excited to go downstairs and look at what Santa brought. Christmas morning was the big get-together for our family, and they were usually scheduled to get there between 8 and 9, so he only got to open a single present before they arrived. He usually chose the biggest one, unless there was one shaped like something he really wanted, then, that was the chosen one. All of the relatives from both is dad’s side of the family and mine would descend on our house for a present opening frenzy and a huge pancake breakfast - with a few mimosas sprinkled in. The house was always brimming with people and laughter and bacon. It was perfect every year.
But we’re all older now, and some of those traditions don’t make any sense anymore. My son hasn’t seen 6 a.m. in at least a decade (thank goodness). Our breakfast is down to 5 or 6 people. And, this year is the first year I didn’t buy tickets to Polar Express. (My son has been very good about watching that damn movie for me every year, even into his 20’s.) I could be sad about that, but I’m too busy making appetizers. What?? You see, we have a new tradition around here. We have a family friend who’s son is a gourmet cook. We like to cook. So, last year, we had an appetizer cook-off between the two families. We had no fewer than 12 appetizers! We had homemade pretzels with beer cheese and stuffed jalapenos and hummus and one person even tried their hand at some molecular gastronomy and made balsamic vinegar bobas to go with her caprese. It was all delicious! We handed out a trophy and played Christmas Jeopardy and laughed until our sides ached… literally! And we’re doing it again this year! What a great new tradition we’ve found.
So, why am I telling you about my Christmas traditions? Well, first of all because they rock! Have I mentioned that I love Christmas?? But, mostly because as I reflect on the changes in my Christmas traditions I realize that they are no different than the changes in the patterns of my life through the rest of my transition to retirement. Are there traditions that you are afraid to leave behind as you make the change into your Third Act? I know there are for me. Yeah, giving up the “tradition” of getting up at 6 a.m. and getting us out the door on time every day doesn’t kill me, but giving up the brain-twisting puzzles that come with helping make a huge multi-national business work is hard. And giving up the traditions of back to school night and sleepovers and science fairs and robotics competitions is much harder. But rather than dwell on what I am giving up, I’d rather make new traditions that I love. This newsletter, for instance, is a weekly ritual now. And my friends and I have a happy hour pot luck “tradition” that we’re starting and I’ve walked the Parkway Half Marathon every year for the last four (with a brief hiatus for the pandemic). All very nice traditions, indeed.
I hope that, as you make your way through this wonderful holiday season, and into the new seasons of your life, you will make new traditions that you love. What do you love to do and who do you love doing it with? I guess my best advice in retirement is to do those things again and again, but don’t be afraid to let them evolve, too, as your seasons continue to change.
I wish you all a warm, festive, bountiful holiday season full of fun and meaning with people that you love!
I will be taking next week off to recover from my appetizer cook-off, make some bacon and track Santa! I’ll see you all back here in a couple of weeks as we make our way into the new year.
This was a much-needed message! I love the idea of evolving traditions! I hope your cook off is fun, and I am sure it will be!