Sunday, December 20, 2009


For the last couple of months or so, I have been been trying to think of what tradition means to me. A year ago I would have said that it meant spending holidays with family. When that didn't happen last year, I was very upset -- to say the least.

This year both of my parents stuck around for Thanksgiving and I chose to not spend the day with either of them because I was still so hurt and angry. A strange thing happened though. I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend. There was no worrying about making sure to not say the wrong thing. There was no fighting to not show how much it hurts when someone makes a verbal jab at me.

I had a great moment of clarity this past week at work. I was perusing the Poulet holiday menu and jotting down the items on the Hanukkah and Christmas menus that sounded interesting. Then a coworker came over to my desk and upon seeing the list loudly declared something along the lines of, "Who the hell would want Hanukkah food?" Made it really easy for me to send a response to the email later in the day inviting all the office staff to the Christmas celebration to be held on the 24th. I respectfully declined.

Yes, for years I have been doing the Christmas thing -- out of respect for relatives. The last time I attended a church service was way back in the 80s. Christmas at best has been a secular thing because it stopped being a part of my spiritual beliefs a long time ago. (I have never done the Easter thing all these years because that has not felt as secular a day as Christmas has become.) But I continued to celebrate it with relatives because they understood and respected the fact that my beliefs were not the same as theirs. Without these relatives around, it's hard to hold onto something that is not a part of my belief system. And my decision to pass on the office party? That was out of respect as well. Because I'll be damned if I have to sit there and make nice with someone who so clearly has little respect for anything outside of her narrow view of the world.

The next thing that happened was that I set to cooking yesterday. And while I was stirring things, I realized that I have at least one winter tradition -- a big pot of cioppino. It may not be much but it's a start. And I started thinking that it's time for me to get back in touch with my own spirituality that has taken a back burner to the needs of others over these last few years.


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