The holidays-the time of year when families gather around the Christmas tree and open the perfect presents that let us bask in the warm knowledge that our family members know our best and secret wishes. Then, at end of the day, we share a perfect turkey dinner.
Well, maybe not exactly. I suppose there must be such families somewhere in the world and I bet they work hard to be sensitive to each other’s needs. I’ve never met them, but whoever they are, I wish them continued bliss.
Christmas pictures of my own family don’t show the underlying pain that we lived with. Mine is a family that has mostly passed on, leaving only me to forge ahead with a life of my own creation. Still, I’m grateful for the skill set I learned in my family setting. I’ve since been very lucky to be adopted into a friend’s family, one not perfect but one that works pretty well.
Last year, they decided to exchange handmade gifts. This was successful enough that we are doing it again. This is definitely a better system than wandering around a shopping mall like zombies on the search for a store-bought gift. This new tradition provides an opportunity to think about what your recipient would like enough so that your effort will not be wasted. I think I will take this one step forward and make little boxes and put a piece of paper inside and place it next to the Christmas crackers. The piece of paper will say, “Tell the person on your right one thing you really like about them and tell the person on your left your funniest memory of them.” Maybe it will become a new tradition.
A lot of people in our neighbourhood celebrate holidays other than Christmas. But even people who use a different calendar still recognize the New Year. Will I have any New Year resolutions? Maybe to give one person a genuine compliment one a day. I’ve kept this resolution in past years and I found that looking for positive things to talk about really made my day a lot more pleasant.
I will also make a resolution to give my dog one surprise every day. I mean, we go for long walks daily and there are little things he has come to expect. For instance, when I feed the cats wet canned food, I give him a tablespoon of it. He taught me to do this, because once after I put wet cat food out on the back porch he started barking wildly at the back door. The minute I opened the door to see what he was barking at, he bolted for the wet food. Liar liar, pants on fire. Still, I figure that kind of ingenuity deserved to be rewarded.
If you are not lucky enough to have a dog, you could try surprising a family member or your significant other. I’m all in favour of such experiments. The successful ones become new habits and traditions. So, if you were to start a new tradition, what would it be?
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.