Thursday Tune-Up: Traditions or Traps?

Susan Family, Simplify and Savor: Ingrid's Posts on Family and Life

Surviing the ChaosThursday Tune-Up: Thoughts on Simplifying and Savoring the Holidays (and Surviving the Chaos!)

Insights from Ingrid: Traditions or Traps?

Tuesday Tune Up:  Ingrid’s Insights

I love Christmas traditions.  Like, our clam chowder soup on Christmas Eve, and the family cookie decorating contest and cutting the tree down from the backyard.  I think traditions benchmark our holiday season, and help us share favorite events. 

But, the can also strangle us.  Trap us into doing something for, well, tradition’s sake.

One of our longest standing traditions is the Christmas Week Puzzle.  It started out small – maybe thirty pieces, when the children were young, yet grew as they grew.

And, living by the “bigger is better” mentality we Christiansens do, eventually came the year when we decided we’d attempt…gulp, 2000 pieces.

I negotiated for the entire month of December to work on it, and they agreed, happily pouring out a waterfall of tiny pieces onto a piece of plywood that topped our coffee table (leaving barely inches of leg space).  It took an hour just to turn the pieces over.  I stared at the scattering of pieces (it’s a coka-cola puzzle with a Christmas theme) and they blurred in my head.  No. Way. 

How on earth were we going to find time to do this gargantuan project?  That year, with seven performances of the community play, a full plate of social events, basketball games, band concerts…we’d barely be home in an evening to work on it.  Not only that, but when we were home, we had Christmas letters to write and cookies to bake, and packages to wrap.  No time to sit, no time to puzzle….

The puzzle only seemed to epitomize our hurried, jumbled lives.  Yes, we chipped away at it, but by the time our extended family arrived from out of town, we’d only managed to complete half the frame. 

We were well on our way to puzzle failure.  But more than that, the Christmas season, even our traditions had taken over our lives.

I was stricken with the Traditions Virus – you know what it looks like. If it doesn’t happen, Christmas is doomed!

And that year, so was our puzzle.

Christmas Eve arrived and we hadn’t finished.  And we had to face the moment…were we going to push forward into the wee hours and finish the puzzle – or, what if we dragged out the easy 100 piece puzzle of earlier days.

Laughing, we pulled out the kids puzzle. Fought for pieces, and with tears rolling down our cheeks, took our annual Epic Puzzle Picture.

Best. Puzzle. Ever.

What traditions are strangling you?  Could you dial it down, simplify?

Do you have to make 30 different kinds of cookies?

How about, instead, 1 batch of everyone’s favorite?  Eaten with hot cocoa around a 500 piece puzzle.

Simplify.  Savor.

What traditions have you simplified? 

Thanks for reading!