"Why decorate my house for Christmas? Everyone has died!” my cousin proclaimed in a recent Facebook post.
I responded quickly that her parents and both brother-in-law’s had died, but that she had her sisters, nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and lots of other members of our large extended family who are alive and well.
She replied by saying that she would try to get in the Christmas spirit.
This begs the question; how do we start new traditions when we are clinging to the old ones and found previous holiday plans just fine until they changed?
Our culture wants us to be in a house full of people, with amazing food and a fire going at just the right temperature, but a loss of loved ones and changes in relationships can alter our plans.
So, what do we do if our calendar looks empty on Christmas? Sit in an empty house? Come up with our own plans?
It can be hard to tell people that we don’t have plans during the holidays, but what if we were open to a new tradition? It’s hard to accept change, however this could happen on and off during our lifetime.
Here are some suggestions for creating new traditions:
*Email friends and contacts and let them know that you do not have plans. Inquire about what they are doing and see where you might fit in.
*Consider joining one of the many dinner groups that are held in people’s home and are welcoming to those who have family out of town, or those who have lost loved ones and are seeking new traditions.
*Volunteer for a charity or organization that helps others on the holidays.
*Spend time with someone who knew your family member and can help you to feel connected to the person that you lost.
*When gathering with others, consider sharing fond memories of past holidays with loved ones who may be no longer with you.
*Practice meditation or light a candle.
A Final Reminder
The period of transition does not have to be perfect. We all go through seasons of our life and this is just one season in the vast picture of your experience.
Come up with a plan that feels right for this time and place you are in. People all over the world are creating new traditions and rethinking old ones.
Will you allow yourself to do the same?
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.