Joel’s newsletter on Holiday Rituals, December 16, 2009
An ezine about Creative thinking, Coaching, and Making a difference
This is the time of year when the streets come alive with holiday lights. While we don't go way out in decorating our own home, we have a few Christmas lights, and we also light the Hanukkah candles in honor of a friend. I do enjoy seeing all the holiday lights and decorations around town. But there's more to it than just enjoying the pretty lights. We're taking part in traditions and rituals.
As a creative thinker, I tend to question things - Why do we do this? What's the purpose? Is there a better way? Many rituals, around holidays or at other times, seem to have no obvious practical function, yet people carry them out religiously. I'm sure that there were good reasons for these traditions in the beginning, although in many cases the original purpose is forgotten.
In thinking about this, I realized that, whether or not we know the original purpose, rituals and traditions do have value. Whether it's lighting candles or decorating trees, here are some of the ways that I find that these practices serve us.
They bring people together. There's a sense of belonging when you observe the same rituals as others. Holiday traditions also provide an opportunity for families and friends to get together; perhaps the only such time during the year.
They provide structure. Our lives would be rather chaotic without some degree of structure and consistency. Holiday customs as well as ordinary daily rituals provide a kind of foundation and structure. There is a sense of accomplishment when you successfully perform an activity, no matter how small.
They provide stability. Because the essence of traditions doesn't change, we pretty much know what to expect, and we can count on them being part of our lives. If your lifestyle involves a lot of change or travel, observing traditions can provide a sense of welcome stability.
They provide comfort and a sense of security. People prefer the known to the unknown. When life is challenging or you feel alone, there can be a strong feeling of comfort in observing or taking part in these traditions. I find it soothing to hear Christmas music and see the beautiful lights during this otherwise stressful season.
They allow you to be part of something bigger. When I observe holiday traditions, I feel connected with the past and with others of my culture. It makes me feel part of the larger cultural experience. I believe that this is one of the primary reasons for traditions in the first place.
They provide something to look forward to. The feeling of satisfaction and joy in taking part in traditions, for all of the reasons mentioned above, gives a reason to look forward to the holidays. That is, as long as you don't get too stressed to enjoy them!
So enjoy the rituals and traditions that you take part in. I hope they serve you well, and I wish you the best of the holiday season!
I'd love to talk with you more about coaching, rituals, or creative thinking. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com or 973-701-1007.
Creative thinking tip
Vary your rituals. How many things do you do the same way every time, because that's the way you always did them, without really thinking about it? Perhaps you take same route every day, eat the same thing for breakfast, or send the same kind of holiday greetings every year. There's nothing wrong with that, but they are good opportunities for creative thinking. You could try something completely new, or just vary it a little bit. The first step is to notice the rituals and habits you have already. Then you can look for new ways to accomplish the same thing, providing that the new way serves you as well or better as before.
Quote of the week
"To many people holidays are not voyages of discovery, but a ritual of reassurance." -- Philip Andrew Adams
To me this says that we need comfort and reassurance as well as excitement and discovery. The holidays are a time to reconnect, become grounded, and enjoy taking part in familiar customs. At other times we may venture off in search of new adventures and the unknown. Both of these kinds of activities are needed and there is a time for each.
This newsletter is written by Joel Remde, to receive this newsletter via email contact firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome your comments and feedback; that will help me learn what you’re interested in and also make this a better newsletter.
Learn more about The Creative Thinking Coach at www.coachjoel.com
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Happy New You
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