Traditions have to start somewhere

Published 2:04 pm Thursday, December 11, 2003

By Staff
Connie Nowlin Managing editor
The facts are families have changed, and there is no such thing as a traditional family any more.
That can make it tough at the holidays, because traditions that belonged to a family died when the family morphed into whatever it is today.
By that I mean the stepfamily, families with loved ones somewhere far away and families facing sending a loved one far away.
So how is it possible to cope, avoid the blues that sometimes hit during the holidays and create hope for the future?
New traditions are the answer.
I knew one man who was divorced as well as estranged from his parents. It became his tradition to work on the holiday, so that other people could be with their families. After work, he would buy a pizza and drive to the beach. There he would eat the pizza and watch the sea gulls dive and flock around for the leftover crusts. Not exactly your traditional Christmas, but it worked for him, and became something he looked forward to.
In some instances, simple changes are all that are needed to keep the blues at bay.
Another young man who was divorced and without his young sons on the holiday did not want to put up a traditional tree and decorations. The entire thing seemed hollow without children to do it for.
Family members gave him a Norfolk Island pine, one of those small living trees, decorated with fishing lures.
It was not overwhelming, did not add to his sense of loneliness, and actually gave him something to look forward to as well, since he and his sons like to fish together.
If someone is about to be deployed, why spend a lot of time cooking when you could spend that time with the person instead? Order the meal from a deli.
There are families who are missing someone who is defending our nation far away. Traveling there is not usually an option, so what do you do?
Maybe this is the year to go out of town at the holidays, to somewhere very different. The missing won't go away, but the memories won't make the day more hurtful.
And most of all, remember the holiday is not about perfection, although the temptation to attempt perfection is strong.
It is about forgiveness. Try opening your heart, and forgive the bruises on it. Forgive yourself. Don't let the ghost of Christmas past overwhelm Christmas present.
Connie Nowlin is managing editor of the Atmore Advance and may be reached at 368-2123 or email at

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