This past weekend, we made the decision not to host the family feed. For the first time in over 25 years, we spent the weekend alone. This was not the plan at first. We were going to be hosting the family feed, but then decided to drive to a city five hours away to see our daughter. There was an immediate backlash about our decision to not host and attempted guilt trip that ended with a hissing "Karma is a b....”.
Karma, simply put, is an action that leads to a reaction. We decided to stay home but we also decided to not participate in the family Thanksgiving madness and it wasn’t that difficult. It occurred to me that this strife is part of our family tradition, and one of the reasons that I secretly dread holidays.
Truthfully, our holiday traditions have never agreed with me. I have cooked but not eaten a single mouthful of Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinners since 2005 when I gave up all the foods that make me sick. Each year, we would make the dinner that tradition dictates and then I would make my own vegetarian meal, usually standing at the counter eating it while the family ate in the dining room, our good china abundantly over flowing with ham, turkey, cabbage rolls, perogies, and gravy, peppered with a hint of entitlement and a dash of judgement. Then my husband and I would do dishes until midnight, and for days after would look for creative ways to use the food.
This year, our friends in Moose Jaw invited us to dinner on Sunday with their family and friends, which was lovely. On Monday, my husband and I went out for a quiet dinner, and that was lovely too.
Since we decided not to partake as we usually do, I took notice of the imagery of the holidays - of families gathered around tables, food aplenty and smiling. I couldn’t help but wonder, are these moments real in other families, or are they photo opportunities? Do we ‘behave’ a certain way during holiday time because of the imagery, when we would rather be doing something else? Why do these attachments attach themselves to us like rabid dogs?
There are things I enjoy that have nothing to do with traditional holidays. I like to use my good china when my family comes over for dinner. I enjoy spending time with people who are enjoyable. I love watching my grandson explore, and I love to see my daughter who lives in another city when ever I possibly can. I do love decorating a tree, but I could do that in July, or October, or whenever. I prefer to celebrate the moments when they happen instead of trying to retrofit them into a Hallmark moment.
I could do without traditional holiday attachments and abandon the expectations that are really just marketing but not reality for many. I would rather spend time whenever possible with my daughters and grandson, and those are the special moments, which have nothing to do with Thanksgiving, Christmas and any other traditional holiday.
So I have decided to re-establish traditions from here on in and take only what I love and leave the rest behind so that my family enjoys our time together. That will include food, experience and who is at the table. I am going to be putting up my Christmas tree sooner than usual because I love it.