The holiday season is such a magical and wonderful time of the year. It’s a time of sharing and caring, friends and family, joy and peace and traditions. We depend on our traditions for the comfort they bring. They make us feel happy, safe and they bind families together. If, however, we are not willing to change, adapt or modify our traditions we could lose a great deal of the joy and happiness this season brings.
There is one reality about ALL families – they change over time. Changes occur naturally as families mature. Children grow up and their interests change. They leave the family home and start families of their own perhaps moving hours or even provinces away. Changes can happen due to death, disease or divorce. We can gain new family members as children bring significant others into the fold. Grandchildren may arrive or perhaps a new relationship results in a new blended family. As our families grow and change so must our expectations. Changing traditions can be difficult and even cause family friction when we don’t allow ourselves to try something new and embrace the change.
New situations often demand that new traditions be established or that existing traditions be modified or adapted to meet with changes in a family’s dynamics. I can remember worrying so much when I approached my Mum and suggested that it would be better if we had the family Christmas dinner at my house. I gave my speech reminding her that we would all still be together but just in a new location. I listed all the logical reasons why this change was beneficial. Her comment was “it’s about time.” She loved giving up the chore of cooking a big meal and being able to spend more time with her grandkids. I had worried for nothing.
Now with my children grown and having families of their own we have many new traditions. My kids have chosen to stay at their own homes on Christmas day so they can enjoy the day with their children and not have to worry about travelling. I will join my son’s family for a Scottish brunch a tradition from my daughter-in-law’s family. Everyone in my son’s family gets new PJs for Christmas which they all wear for brunch and for as long as they want. This year Gramma is coming in her new PJ’s. I think my grandduaghters will love that. Later in the afternoon it will be off to spend time and have dinner with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson. I love these new traditions that allow me to share the day with my children and grandchildren in their homes where the grandkids can show me their new toys and I can play with them and NOT have to worry about cooking.
We sometimes need to adapt or modify our traditions. When I was growing up my favourite part of Christmas morning was opening my stocking and watching others open theirs. The same was true when my children were small. It was a great time of sharing and being together. Now my Christmas mornings have changed and I have started a new tradition with small stockings and a book for each of my grandchildren which I deliver on the 24th when my kids and their families get together. I get to enjoy watching them open their stockings and I read them their new books. This is perhaps my favourite new tradition.
Many of our holiday traditions revolve around food. The big turkey dinner, the lovely baked treats, the food at open house events and don’t forget the candy and chocolate. All this food can be a problem when we are trying to make more heathy food choices to improve how we feel, our general health and maintain a healthy weight. It’s only once a year you say but in January we often feel guilty and depressed because we’ve gained weight. Here are some tricks which may help and still allow you to enjoy those special traditional foods and treats. Use smaller plates so you can better control the portion size. When you go to an open house eat something healthy but filling before you leave so that you’re not so hungry and tempted to eat more than you should. If you’re hosting or bringing food to an event, choose to make a healthy snack like veggies with hummus or fresh fruit with a yogurt dip. Fresh fruit is delicious, sweet and colourful.
The actual preparing of special baked treats and sweets that are only made for the holidays is a tradition in itself but the results of all those treats can be oh so tempting. Instead of not baking here are some tips. Make cookies and squares much smaller, just one or two bites and make mini tarts instead of pies. This way you can have those traditional treats but eat less and because each treat is smaller you can enjoy more variety. My daughter has come up with a couple great ideas that allow her to bake to her hearts content. She gives baked goods and her homemade sweets (her salted toffee is to die for) to friends and co-workers as gifts, bakes for a hospice and each year her and her husband each pick the house in their neighbourhood they feel has the best outdoor decorations. The lucky winners get a gift of her assorted goodies. Hope these help.
Traditions matter so ENJOY the old, Embrace the new, and Endure those traditions that have had to changed due to lose of loved ones. May the memories of those no longer with us give you peace.
I wish you all good health, great happiness, love, joy and PEACE during this holiday season and 2017.
By Nancy Barratt. Nancy is a certified Personal Trainer, Older Adult Specialist and Yoga Instructor. Body Design offers Personal Training, Nutrition, Yoga and Group Fitness Classes to assist individuals achieve their health and fitness goals