Often tradition is changed. This may be due to your choice or circumstance. Remember sometimes change makes things better in the long run or at least somewhat enjoyable.
I just spoke to a friend of mine. She called and said she was getting the shakes. She was experiencing withdrawal. This year she had decided not to buy her grown children Christmas gifts. She and her husband have five grown children, three of them married. They also have three grandchildren.
Now that Christmas is in the not so distant future, my friend has a great urge to go back on her promise to herself and rush to find things for each of her children and their mates.
I asked her why she had made the decision originally. She said because of the expense and the amount of time it took to shop. She was burned out after so many years.
I asked her what her husband wanted to do. She said he wanted to give the children gifts. But when she suggested he do the shopping, he had declined.
When my friend told her children of her decision, none of them seemed to object. This past month she had been to Chicago to visit one of her daughters in college and had already treated her to a number of outfits.
What should she do, she wanted to know.
I said, "Hang in there. It's okay to cut down on gift giving and enjoy your family in other ways." I then confided that when she had told me of her plan a few weeks ago, I had thought about myself. I didn't think I could pull her plan off. It's hard to break with tradition, I said, but sometimes it makes good sense. She thanked me for the support and we said our good-byes. I continued to work in my office and think of my friend. All of a sudden I called her back. When I reached her, I asked her where she was headed. She said she was in Kirkwood circling a store. I laughed and said, "Listen, I changed my mind. Go for it. I think you should get each of your children a token gift." She said, "Oh, no. Why?"
I said, "Because you love giving. I lived with you through many Christmases and you've always been a wonderful gift giver, thinking and planning, and taking care of each of your children. It's your pleasure. Give each family a gift, but make it smaller. Maybe a Christmas ornament, or a plate or bowl from Nori Obata (a local artist we both love)." She immediately started telling me about what she had thought of giving her children. I know she felt relieved.
What I thought after we hung up: It's painful to change or give up a tradition that's existed for so many years. All of a sudden your parents announce they are going out of town to visit one of your aunts so they won't be having Christmas Eve.
Or one of your sons gets married and you don't get to see him on Christmas Day because he and his wife are spending it with her family.
Or your husband no longer wants to decorate the outside of the house or put up a Christmas tree because it's too much work.
Or lack of money forces you to significantly cut back on the number of people you are able to give to.
Or your mate has died during the past year and now your daughter insists that you come to her house for the holidays instead of her coming to yours.
Doing things differently, even when it's time, is difficult.
Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World,” “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide,“ and “Thin Becomes You” at Doris’ web page: http://www.doriswildhelmering.com.
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