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Holidays and Expectations


The word obligation is a noun defined by dictionary.com as

“something by which a person is bound or obliged to do certain things, and which arises out of a sense of duty or results from custom, law, etc.”

I have had a life long resistance to authority which has resulted in for me, a breeding ground for resentment for “the way things have to be done.”

So we have to look at the sense of duty that results from a custom or law. In much of our culture, that sense is misguided and can be upheld in really unhealthy ways.

Growing up in an alcoholic home and experiencing holidays for us was fraught with the fallout of the volatile combination of addiction and expectations to have a perfect holiday. This was repeated year after year.

It has been so important in our family with both my husband and I growing up in scenarios with lack of boundaries, addictions and anger that we examine where that sense of duty comes from. Does it come from a deep and abiding need to honor and celebrate the sacred in a common shared ritual that has meaning to us as a family of Believers? Or something else? A blind sense of duty towards the fabrication of an illusion?

Last year, we asked our kids, both teenagers what they wanted their holiday to look like and how they wanted to spend their time. They seemed surprised to be asked. They also shared how many places they most decidedly did not want to be “dragged to.” They loved worship. They shared that they liked a decorated tree, but didn’t really notice the other decorations. Riley loved baking pies and Johnny loved making music (no surprise there!) They loved watching special movies and playing board games with family. Riley and I created visual representations of moving away from the old year and welcoming the new year.

Taking the pressure off what the holiday is supposed to look like and making shared decisions on what we want it to look like created a new tradition in our family! One that comes from a sense of love and respect for each other and the desire to share the celebration of the sacred.

Our kids also love that our home has become a haven for those who need one on holidays, or on anyday. Freely choosing and sharing authentic space and connection breeds Grace. Grace that allows forgiveness, healing and acceptance of past wounds and family relationships but supports us in creating new ways of navigating and celebrating the sacred here on EarthSchool.