One of my favorite Christmas movies is A CHRISTMAS STORY. I’m not sure how many of my followers have seen the movie, but it if you haven’t seen it, I might spoil it with this blog. It is set in the fifties and is about this boy, Ralphie, who desperately wants a BB Gun for Christmas. Everyone tells him he’ll shoot his eye out, even Santa. But he persists in his petitions to receive the BB Gun. Meanwhile, the movie is chock full of adventures, boy adventures, with bullies and snow and double dog dares. The parents are baffled, befuddled, but loving. The Dad (as played by Darren McGavin) is fabulous–especially when he receives his prize from a company: a lamp in the shape of a lady’s leg. Very fun. The entire movie just makes you root for Ralphie and it is heartwarming. I think the reason it works is that this is not a picture perfect family with all its ducks in a row. Martha Stewart traditions don’t prevail. In the end, even the best traditions get upended by the dogs. Their Christmas dinner is destroyed and stolen. What do they do? They go out for Chinese and they have a good time.
And this is how traditions become different for every family. For we all want to have the comfort of the same and the tried and true traditions as we approach the holiday season. But the truth is, traditions get upended all the time because of health problems, family problems, money problems, and the list goes on. Last year we traveled to Texas just before Christmas because my father-in-law was ill, and we wanted to see him one more time. I remember another year when my daughter was in pre-school and her teacher said her mom was so sick that year that they didn’t shop at all for Christmas. They clipped money to the tree, made a big pot of chili and hung out in their PJs. Then they went out the day after Christmas and spent their money at all the sales. A new tradition was born out of a serious necessity. This year I know a friend, my neighbor, who has ill parents on both sides of the family. They’ve got three young children. They won’t be home for Christmas because they’re traveling 14 hours to two different sets of parents to support them during this holiday season. Together we brainstormed how to create a solution and a “new” tradition for this year. One that would be fun for the kids and would take the pressure off the parents as they cope with their ailing ones.
See, that is why A Christmas Story works. Because it shows that it is in how we respond to the winds of change that we recreate new bonds and forge new traditions. So this year, as we head into the holiday season, my wish for all of my readers is that they kick back, lift off as many of the “shoulds” from their shoulders, and create new traditions in the face of any setback.
Happy Holidays and for Your Reading Pleasure click the links below to learn about other folks and how they cope with the holidays!