Holiday Traditions Old and New

After spending some time online reading some lists that suggest possible holiday traditions to do in the month of December, I have decided to make a list of what I am planning on doing or have already been doing.

There are three categories of traditions that I decided to make as goals: traditions from my childhood that I love to do, traditions that I have done for years alone without any family involvement and continue to do alone at my homespace, and new traditions that I am trying to explore and do.

I decided to pick no more than five items for each of the three lists. Mostly because when I get overwhelmed and make too many goals for myself, I tend to get constricted when overwhelmed with trying to add to many things in too short of a time period and with too little energy and health, especially since I have had a sinus infection this week.

Childhood Traditions:

1 Christmas tree.

Though I have an artificial one.

2 Christmas music.

And lots of it. I have already checked out several of my favorite Christmas cds that I don’t have yet and bought more than used ten cds of some of my faves that I finally found very reasonable online.

3 Christmas animated specials.

I try to buy them used and wait for great sales and this year have gotten more of the older and newer specials that I love.

4 Sing Christmas songs.

Usually in tandem with cds. I am, unfortunately an untrained singer, but I love it, always have, hope that I always will.  I do it often, but try not to do it after a certain time of the evening.

5 Holiday foods and celebrations with treats.

I love these kinds of little additions to my personal celebrations. With health considerations and limitations I have been eating my favorite foods a lot less, so I am looking forward to a few indulgences in the next few weeks.

I am also doing my extra steps exercising, so I am hoping that will help me to stay on track with my improving my health by walking, which always has helped when I am able to do it. I used to be much more active outside at this time of year and I regret that I do not go ice skating, walking for miles, sledding, etc.

My traditions:

1 Bake things.

This is something that I never used to do, but I have in the last four or five years and I enjoy it. I’ve made bread, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies. I will probably do all three things, I just need to get to a store that sells the gluten free stuff.

2 Attend some holiday gathering or presentation.

I am going to try to go to a free holiday presentation at a local store. I try to go to something every year. If I am well enough and the weather is tolerable, I will.

3 Read Christmas children’s picture books.

I love this holiday tradition. I have already gotten and read more than ten books from the library. I got some of my all-time favorite ones, read some and already returned some, and others I am still keeping and reading more than once.

4 Make Christmas crafts.

This is a celebratory creative endeavor and I had not done it for more than five years. I am happy and proud to say that I already made a few things, for gifts for others.

5 Celebrate other December holidays.

As a Christian I have tried, over the years, to adopt some Jewish holiday traditions, to incorporate them into my life. I believe that the early Christians combined the old traditions with the new and this was common for hundreds of years. I enjoy the combination. I find the Celebration of Lights incredibly powerful, miraculous, hopeful, healing, and positive.

I am also trying to, in some small way, start celebrating winter solstice as well. I’ve been having a lot of trouble doing that, over the years, but I am hoping that I can manage to do something small this year.

I’ll write more about that after I’ve really looked over the articles and made some decisions. I’ve kind of reached my limit tonight on making decisions and probably need some hours to relax my mind and maybe tomorrow or soon after I can write about what I am planning on doing for winter solstice.

I am also considering doing something for St Thomas’ Day in honor of St Thomas the Apostle on December 21st, perhaps early in the afternoon, the same day as the winter solstice.

New Traditions:

1 St. Nicholas Day Celebration.

I’ve wanted to do this for years. I am really looking forward to the St. Nick party I will be going to.

2 Do a white elephant gift exchange.

I read about this several years ago in a Christmas holiday mini-book and I’ve wanted to do that since. I have invited several family members to do it.

3 Donate Christmas presents.

For many years I volunteered at my local food shelf and participated in their Christmas presents for children program. I took part in unpacking and separating the presents into the different ages for boys and girls, which involved more than a week long of work by lots and lots of volunteers, both for the food and the toys aspects. I also took part with the two day long food and presents giveaway. My health has not been well enough to participate in that for several years, too much standing, lifting, the building is too cold, etc. But I have often thought of donating Christmas presents for children and teens. I don’t live near there and so I decided to get a few presents and donate them to the local women’s shelter.

4 Write a letter to Santa.

The Littles have not done this in years, they have mentioned several times that they would like to do this, so I am sure that they will enjoy it.

5 Celebrate Advent.

I’ve already celebrated the first Sunday of Advent. It was really awesome. I am planning on making the second Sunday even more special, with small, little extra things. I still want to keep the goals small and very achievable, which is helping me in establishing a new tradition. I’m not trying to do something special as an Advent activity each day, but for sure each Sunday of Advent for this year. Each year, I am hoping, that I will be able to add more depth and more breadth to my Advent celebrations.

I tried to pick goals that are small or estimated to be achievable, or that I have achieved in the past or am doing already this past week. A few goals are iffy, but I am going to try to do them and hopefully I will do them all and enjoy them all. I will be posting more as the month goes on. What are you going to do? Just remember, not doing anything is just as valid as a choice. Good and healing thoughts to you all.

Here are some links to some articles that I looked at:

75 Family Christmas Traditions

Family Advent Activities

40 Christmas Traditions

St. Nicholas Day

Hanukkah

Celebrating Winter Solstice

How to Have a Solstice Celebration

Winter Solstice: Ritual, Ideas, & Celebrations

Customs & Holidays around the Solstice

Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse December Submissions

The theme for this Edition will be holidays; good childhood memories and difficult childhood memories, coping and grounding and self-soothe and comfort skills from the past, what works now, and what skills you are working at doing, and creating new holiday traditions.

I’m planning on writing myself about my own childhood experiences during the holiday season. Because of my family of origin’s frequently recurring dysfunctional holiday experiences, I wanted to try to make the Edition with some helpful and healing posts.

Although I will be writing about and focusing on Christmas, primarily, through December on my blog I want to encourage anyone to write and submit posts about holidays that they or their families have celebrated, from their childhoods and adulthoods or ones that they have not celebrated, feelings of community, inclusion, stigmatizing, and exclusion.

Submissions Form

December’s deadline will be December 21st and the Edition will be published late that evening. If there is something you want to submit a few days late, do it, and I can add it to the Edition.

Blog post submissions for the Blog Carnivals also include: child abuse survivor stories, art and poetry, art therapy, child abuse as a topic in the news media, as well as PTSD, disassociation, areas of aftermath and aftereffects of abuse, therapy, recovery, and healing from abuse, and, all forms of child advocacy and awareness.
Advocacy and Awareness
Aftermath
Healing and Therapy
In the News
Poetry
Survivor Stories
Art Therapy

If you don’t have a blog or have a private blog you could submit a post directly to me and I can guest post it here on my blog. If you want to write on the holiday theme or any other and want to do a guest post, I can then include you in the Blog Carnival.

Here is the link to make submissions:

Submissions Form

Healing Quotes 648

“Thanksgiving is the holiday that encompasses all others. All of them, from Martin Luther King Day to Arbor Day to Christmas to Valentine’s Day, are in one way or another about being thankful.”
.
~ Jonathan Safran Foer

A Thanksgiving Time Memory

A Thanksgiving Time Memory (one of the ugly ones)

mentions child sexual abuse

I had decided to write about this specific incident, but am having trouble because when I try to type out a sentence I can’t find the words, I don’t want to share it all in detail, which I don’t have to words for at all, but also I don’t know how to write about it in an abbreviated way either.

I was sexually abused for a long time by a male. He was the man who took me away from the ritual abuse cult I was being abused in. He could do that because he took over the group and was the leader there, for a time, until he disbanded the group. He saved my life, parented me, and loved me, so understandably our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and memories of him are complex. I knew him for twenty years, until his death. I’m writing about him only as an introduction, for context of why young men were in my life and why that made me more vulnerable to being abused by them.

A few times other men, who worked for him, sexually abused me or tried to sexually abuse me, as well, over the years. When I was eleven, and my primary male abuser was very sick, I was raped a series of times by two men together, in their early twenties. I contracted some kind of reaction on my outer privates that was very obvious and excruciatingly painful.

What made this worst of all, for me, was that I had to tell my mother, who had been my primary female sexual abuser, that I had to go to the doctor and why. My parents never asked me if something had happened to me. They discussed it alone and had decided that my adult sister would go with me to the doctor and stay in the room with me. My sister never asked me if someone had touched me or hurt me.

(Neither did the young doctor, when he showed up. He kept repeating instructions for the proper way to wipe yourself after toileting and insisting that I take very hot baths, as hot as you can stand, every evening, because apparently what obviously looks like a sexually transmitted issue is a refusal to wipe and keep her privates clean. Which incidentally baths can cause infections, so he actually told me all the wrong stuff. He inserted some cream and gave me a prescription for another cream, which worked.)

So here we had been sitting in this cold doctor’s office waiting, after me being told to remove all my clothes and sitting on the table with two thin and tiny paper cover ups, one for above and one for across my thighs. My sister sitting in a straight back chair. We waiting like that for about 45 minutes. It was late November and cold outside and in. I always recall it was November because of our interactions while we waited.

We talked for a while and she was asking about school and how that was. This was the school year where we had moved and there was a  lot of girl bullying. We talked about several things until I started telling her about a music lesson.

I was telling her about a new song that I had learned in school for Thanksgiving. It is called We Gather Together. And to keep my mind occupied and distracted she let me teach her the song. So there we were, for almost an hour, me cold and getting colder by the minute, her ignoring what we were there for and yet there for me, and us singing We Gather Together.

He Saw His Shadow

So they are saying that the groundhog saw his shadow. Six more weeks of Winter. Well no matter what he sees we usually get six more weeks of Winter.

I am trying to stay positive. Last year we had more than six more weeks of winter. Basically we had two-and-a-half months of Winter after the groundhog and an early Autumn. Last year was unlucky when it came to having good weather.

I tried to ignore the fact that it was 2013, mostly I lived in a sort of denial about the unlucky number. I’m so happy that we are into a new year. Many inners in the system have expressed an issue with the unlucky number over the last few years, so I was not happy thinking about living a whole year with the unlucky number and how anxious they would be over it.

Well 2013 turned out to be a very bad year, well at least, the first half of the year was very very bad indeed. The second half has been luckier and very healing. And I have spent that time climbing out of the nuclear crater that the first six months caused in my life. I’m really looking forward to the rest of this new year, even if it includes six more weeks of Winter.

Some Wonderful Holiday Posts

Two years ago, when I was living in the warmer state, I spent some time each night surfing Christmas posts on WordPress. I added a few of my blog friends posts to my post on Holiday Coping Resources and others on Holiday Posts.

Last year I didn’t have access to a computer at home, so I had to forego my surfing fun. This year I have spent some happy times each day seeing what others are doing, thinking, and feeling this holiday season. It has been wonderful.

Holiday Cats

The holiday zen of cats.

It’s a Major Award

Two kinds of major awards.

I’m a “cupaholic”

Me too!

Holiday Bliss

Holiday merrymaking with accompanied photos.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time

Baby joys from the season.

T’is the Season to be Jolly

A self-described grumpy teenager’s take on the holiday.

The Christmas Spirit

Slowing down for the month, relaxing and making good memories.

How Santa Claus Began

From St. Nicholas to Santa Claus

Christmas Carols at Millenium Park

Christmas Carol photos.

Christmas Lights on the Water

A few boats lit up.

Being Chanukah in a Christmas World

Christmas from the outside looking in.

Christmas in the Land-of-No-Christmas

Christmas in the Holy Land.

Christmas Story

A little story about a sick little girl. The photo is priceless.

Goddess Photo with Xmas Lights

Portrait of the Goddess of Light.

Christmas Cake

The history of the British Christmas cake.

Christmas Tree Hunt

One small family’s Christmas tree hunt. They are so cute.

The Christmas Tree Picnic

Motivation to finish the tree decorating and a nice new tradition.

O Christmas Tree

Kitty, Kitty, Kitty in the tree.

Christmas is for Geeks, Too

I love this post. It’s just one photo, but it says it all.

Real or Fake: The Great Christmas Tree Debate

The pros and cons of this choice.

A Flesh Colored Grinch, And Proud

A humorous and intelligent Brit rant on the over-use of the word Christmas.

5 Things You Should Never Get Your Significant Other

Timely, humorous, and great advice. Please take note.

Christmas Gift Guide: Revenge Edition

A list of the five things to buy the children of people you want revenge on.

Connectedness to Holidays

We love holidays. To us, they are the ultimate affirmation of life. They are about joy and family, and connection and love. They are about celebration. And we love them.

My last post on the connectedness series will be next Monday at noon, on Halloween. I’m having trouble getting this post written, so I have continued to put it off until the end of the month. I have a few days left, so hopefully I will find some articulate way of trying to say something that I have not found a way to say by Monday.  

For my first post of Halloween, we decided, we were going to post two Halloween light shows that are posted at youtube. For years and years after recovering memories of being a Ritual Abuse survivor we did not like to even think about Halloween. It was triggering. It was unpleasant. It was repugnant. I would try to ignore it and just hide.

As I have learned to manage things better and have healed and learned a great deal, things have changed. I realize that The Littles want to celebrate. They want to have fun. They want to have decorations at home. And they want candy.

They wanted me to post the two videos to the blog and so I will be. I don’t think that they will be triggering to anybody, but wanted everyone to get some advance notice, if you are a ritual abuse survivor, basically they are two videos with Halloween lights and pumpkin outlines singing and blinking to songs.  

So we do have decorations. More than we have ever had before. We found some great stuff at one discount store and at one used store that was reasonably priced. We put decorations up in several rooms. We are going to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. We love that tv special. And a new special Scared Shrekless. We are going to buy lots of chocolate candy for us to eat. We are going to hand out candy and look at all the little ones dressed up. And we are going to enjoy ourselves and have some fun.