When I recall family holidays and traditions, certain foods, people and places come to mind. Over time, with the passing of loved ones, children growing up with their own families and the ease of moving across the country, some traditions may be gone.
But there is hope, even with COVID dealing an another blow to time-honored holiday traditions: An “intermittent tradition.”
Intermittent tradition offers us the grace of ceasing and re-establishing. It offers flexibility during times of change. It gives us permission to try something new and then let it go if it isn’t a good fit or when circumstances change.
Some of you probably do this already, as you take turns hosting holiday meals and festivities. When it comes to food, our family often breaks from traditional preparations to meet our changing tastes and health needs and fulfill our desire for culinary adventure.
We traditionally eat turkey for Thanksgiving; however, we do an annual family check-in to determine how we’ll cook it. For a number of years, I roasted my turkey in the oven. More recently we’ve deep-fried or grilled our bird. We all get involved; it’s more fun and always delicious.
Perhaps you aren’t able to travel and visit your loved ones in person. This is the year of Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and other platforms that connect us virtually across the miles. Many of these are free, user friendly and offer ways to continue traditions.
Let’s say, for example, that you usually get together with friends to bake Christmas cookies. It’s as much about socializing as it is getting your baking done. Through the magic of a virtual platform, you can bake whatever kind of cookies you like in the comfort of your own kitchen and have fun with your friends at the same time. When the batches of cookies are baked, you can all enjoy eating your confections. It’s similar to a television cooking show, except you get to taste the results instead of only watching the cook do that.
This can work for sharing virtual meals with loved ones, teaching a new daughter-in-law how to make the family’s favorite dressing or opening gifts.
Another idea is to plan an outdoor activity in a somewhat central location for those who live nearby. There are many parks and areas that offer all levels of hiking trails. This is a wonderful way to enjoy nature and some exercise before or after a big meal. Sledding and ice skating are other options.
Do something that you typically don’t do during the holidays:
- String popcorn and cranberry garland for your tree
- Send out Christmas cards that arrive before Christmas
- Make a new dessert or a variation of the standard green bean casserole
- Check out a holiday movie that you don’t typically watch
- Buy a fresh tree
- Have a virtual “ugliest Christmas sweater” contest
- Send a holiday greeting to someone in the armed forces
- Sing Christmas carols to your neighbors
- Take a nighttime drive around your neighborhood to enjoy the lights and decorations.
While you may not be able to enjoy every holiday tradition, take this opportunity to create some new ones that may continue for decades. You may even find that you like the updated green bean casserole better than the one you’ve eaten for as long as you can remember.
Carol Slager is a licensed pharmacist, author, blogger and health coach in Northwest Indiana. Follow her monthly in Get Healthy and at inkwellcoaching.com. Opinions expressed are the writer's.