Building traditions, for mental health

You know that feeling you get when you start noticing the same thing everywhere around you, and it keeps popping up?

That’s what I get this year about building own holiday traditions.

I found it first on The Nest website, and as much as it gets into the typical one-two-three-tips type of articles, it got me thinking.

Then I found it on Dani’s Positively Present blog, and started to remember my own Christmas books.

Then as I recently bought a Christmas fir ring (Adventkranz) for the home, and thought this was one of the first traditions D. and I started as a new family, I thought…yes, Christmas is mostly about how you feel about it.

And you feel it based on rituals and traditions built around. Some get stuffed down your throat by consumerism and society, some you discover if you look into Yuletide and ancient rituals, and some you get to create for yourself.

So here are my own rituals for this time of year, which, ironically enough, don’t involve Christmas trees or Santa Claus.


1. Walking at night through the snow. Preferrably around woods.

There is a poem by Robert Frost “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”, which I’ve known for years. It perfectly describes the feeling you get if on a winter’s night, you walk through the snow in quiet woods.


2. Reading a good book by candlelight.

Not too long though, in order not to strain your eyes.
I remember one perfect Christmas Eve, when carol singers had come and gone, and I sat alone by the tree, reading an incredibly old version of Jane Eyre, with hard, brown covers, and thick paper pages.  I don’t know what made that evening so special…it might have been the age of the book, or the atmosphere in it, but it stuck to my mind as a Christmas anchor.

Other Christmas connected books:
The Chronicles of Narnia – any of them, but especially the first one – “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”
Harry Potter books (don’t know why, the first ones all have a Christmas-y feeling about them)
Little Women
Tolkien’s “Father Christmas” which I received last year as a gift, a long awaited one. And can’t wait to re-read this year.

Roast turkey roll for Christmas-298396

3. Cooking especially good stuff.

For this time of year, everyone seems to pull out the best ingredients: cinnamon, ginger, chocolate, spices, brandy, wine.

My parents used to bake a special cake (similar to the English Christmas cake) with tons of fruit, spices and alcohol inside. And a turkey roll with mushroom and garlic filling. And boiled wine with orange slices. And special teas.

Can’t wait to start the baking, cooking, tasting.

So, in the end, traditions are the string that gets woven around this time of the year. Whether we like or hate them, we’re free to reinvent new ones, and anchor them to a state of mind that gets recreated each year.

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