If you follow me on Facebook (and I would love to have you follow me there so I can get feedback and know what you want more of), you know that I recently returned from taking my mom to the Andrea Bocelli concert in Anaheim, California. It was incredible! In fact, it moved me so much I have included a song of his called “The Prayer” as a link in this blog post so you can enjoy it too. It brings me to tears every time I hear it.
My mom and I didn’t always get along. In fact, we didn’t like each other at all when I was a typical teen. She was too controlling and didn’t fit the picture of what I thought a mother should behave like. I was unhappy in our relationship for a good 15 years. Then, after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I realized that I had not really given my mom a chance to grow in my own mind. She hadn’t noticed that I was no longer 15 years old. We had each other frozen in time and reacted as if we were children. So I took her away on a mother-daughter trip to Mexico where we couldn’t call home, had no distractions, and could really clear up our relationship and thaw the ice we were in.
It worked. We yelled, cried, and eventually laughed…a lot. From then on I have made a point of making sure we get alone time together. We usually do something my dad and husband don’t enjoy. And we laugh. We stood in hour long lines at Disney Land and talked about deep subjects and processed a lot of pain that is happening for both of us because my dad has leukemia. We didn’t care where we were. Standing in line was fine. We were together and we were being authentic with our thoughts and feelings with each other. That is a tradition we have now.
The holidays are often a time of great pain for people. I see it in my clinic every year. There is the stress of trying to put together the perfect event, to look perfect, to be perfect. There is the stress of seeing family members that might be toxic. There is the stress of being surrounded by food and alcohol that will leave you overweight, inflamed, and exhausted if you imbibe in it. There is financial stress, schedule stress, work stress, and on and on and on. I have patients staggering into my clinic in January looking like they have been run over by a truck rather than uplifted with the joy of the season.
What if you created a holiday season with traditions that didn’t exhaust you? We have started doing that in my home. When my four kids were small I used to write a letter from Santa that had a story that grew on itself each year. I had a reindeer that showed up before Christmas and brought them little surprises. We had them burst through a wall of wrapping paper Christmas morning to get to the Christmas tree. We also celebrated Hanukkah by reading about the meaning of the candles, oil and light, eating latkes and playing with a dreidel. We celebrated Kwanza and Diwali. California Adventures did this too. It was great. My mom and I had a great time enjoying Yiddish music, African music, Indian dance, and a candle light processional that led to a powerful music filled nativity performance.
Now that my kids are grown we don’t buy presents and we don’t stress about anything. We share experiences. We started a new tradition last year that has caught on and is being repeated this year. Our Christmas is Harry Potter themed. Yes, we are weird. 🙂 We hang candles from the ceiling to make it look like the great hall at Hogwarts. Each person in the family is responsible for bringing an event rather than a present. We have a tri-wizard tournament, wand dueling and our kitchen is called “The Three Broomsticks”. My dad is making wands for every person in the family this year. We even play quidditch. It’s low key on me because I am only responsible for one event. We celebrate for 4 days, having a lot of laughs together.
What are your traditions? I would love to hear back from you. I am going to put together a little booklet that I will share back with all of you so you can get some ideas. Traditions help create fond memories. They also help you know what is coming so you can plan. Make sure they are doable so you have some time for your own self-care! Laughter is one of the most healing activities you can engage in. Check in with yourself and see if you are doing enough of it. If not, build in some activities that will elicit laughter from you. My prayer for you is that you might find joy in your life!
Mail your traditions to me at: [email protected]. Put “traditions” in the subject line and let me know if I can use your name. Send me a little blurb about you and I will include that too if you like.
Another tradition we have is to take our traditional and sometimes generational family recipes and make them healthy. I have included one of my favorites at the bottom of this email. I hope you enjoy it!
Also please enjoy The Prayer:
So much love and light and many blessings to you this holiday season,
P.S. When my children were young I used to make German pancakes for them on Christmas morning. Of course, these are traditionally made with white flour. I was elated when I figured out how to make them with an alternative flour. I serve them with raspberries that I have simmered on the stove top with a little maple syrup.
Healthy German Pancakes
2 Tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
8 pastured eggs
1 cup almond milk
4 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons arrowroot starch
4 Tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Scoop the ghee or coconut oil into a glass 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Melt in the oven and keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
In a blender, whip all of the ingredients together until smooth. Pour the mixture into the oven-warmed pan over the melted fat. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until set in the middle.
Serve topped with fresh fruit and maple syrup.