When I was growing up, the excited anticipation of Christmas was augmented by the baking of Christmas Cookies. For some reason, I still don’t understand this chemistry; the flavor of the cookies that were baked for Christmas improved over time. Several weeks before Christmas, the baking would begin. By alternating the location of the baking, between our house and my aunt’s house each year, more hands could get more cookies baked.
There was the ones shaped into O’s, I’s and S’s, the ends dipped into chocolate (my favorite) the circular shortbread with raspberry jelly sandwich between two cookies, the top having a hole that we kids made with a thimble and then dusted with powdered sugar. The list of delights are too many to describe, but when the baking was completed, which took several days, these cookies were tucked and layered in airtight containers and stored in a cool place until Christmas Eve when our holiday officially began. As we got older, they were also hidden until then, because we would try to eat those delicious treats and did not want to wait. But wait we did…
My mother now 85, still makes those Christmas cookies and although we haven’t lived in the same town for many years, she sends me a box every Christmas. Yum!
Once I married and had children, we developed our own tradition for the holidays, combining both our celebrations with an overlay of something new and as a result start our holiday season every year on winter solstice. So what to do about those Christmas cookies which traditionally I did not start eating until Christmas Eve?
Even though we had started a new way to celebrate during the holidays, I had a difficult time letting go of the idea that the cookies could not be opened until Christmas Eve. My husband on the other hand countered with, “but our celebration starts on solstice”.
I stuck to my guns. But even my mother long ago stopped writing on the outside of the box “Open on Christmas Eve”. So why did I need to hang onto this idea or tradition? Letting go would make my husband happy; halt the tense discussion about when to start eating the cookies. Truth be told the cookies taste just as good no mater what day you start eating them. I never felt they were more or less special by keeping them out of bounds until the special day. (In fact they are so good I’d like to bake them all year round.)
How often do you find yourself hanging on to an idea or tradition that ends up causing stress or conflict?
What is that part of you afraid would happen if you let go?