This year, like the last 3, has flown by at the speed of light. We’ve rushed from major life change to major life event, and that seems to have swallowed up all the time in the middle – funny how that works.
As we slowly settle in to our very own first home together, we finally had the chance to start navigating some of the bumps of multicultural, multi-ethnic, marriage. We are finding ways to keep the traditions and rituals that are meaningful to each of us, discard the pieces we don’t like, and incorporate them into a new whole which is more authentically US. This is both a wonderful and painful process.
I am constantly reminded of an old joke my family told of how another family always celebrated a particular holiday with a special roast they would carefully cut in half before cooking. Finally, a great grand-daughter of the family dared to ask the matriarch what the meaning and symbolism was behind the halving of the roast. The matriarch blinked in puzzlement and replied, “There is no meaning to it! My first oven was too small for the whole roast, so I cut it in half. I guess my kids saw me do it and thought it was a thing.” I always felt that if I changed anything, my ancestors would roll over in their graves! But that pretends that culture and traditions, even deeply religious ones, have remained unchanged from generation to generation, and even more unlikely, that our ancestors never thought about anything, questioned anything, and never navigated their own map through faith and culture. But we know that none of those things are true!! Our ancestors struggled with belief and a changing social and political climate affected faith and how globalization changed observance. Religion, faith, culture, and traditions themselves have changed significantly, sometimes in very short periods of time. So it’s a little silly to think our ancestors would disturb their sleep over something as petty as living life.
As part of this remapping of culture, I’ve been more open and on the lookout than ever for scholarly works on why we celebrate in particular ways, and I’ve been honestly shocked (because I thought I knew almost everything about the subject already) to find how much of our ‘sacred traditions’ have been the equivalent of grandma’s tiny oven. It made sense to do it then, so people started doing it, but not because there was an intrinsic significance to it.
This has also forced us into some also-painful-but-important conversations on what we want for our family, the kinds of values, culture(s), and traditions we want to pass on – knowing that this is just the latest in a series of these conversations that we will have for many many more years. And you know, taking the time to sit down and analyze why we do certain things and what they mean to us and what message are we really sending and is that the message we WANT to be sending, is a really important part of living a conscious life.
So I’ve jettisoned (or am working on that) some things that I did not enjoy, that espoused messages and values I don’t espouse, and am adopting and tweaking new rituals that are a more accurate indicator of our family and our beliefs and values. I’m really starting to enjoy the holidays in a way I never did before.
My new year’s wish for all of you is that you live a conscious life, jettison those things that hurt or don’t reflect you and your value, freely adopt and own those things that do matter to you. And have a wonderful year!!