Adventures in Retirement- Holiday traditions just not the same anymore

Written by Bill Leavitt. Posted in Featured, Senior Living

Published on January 17, 2018 with No Comments

Many of the holiday traditions of the past have been replaced with activities that have little to do with the warm, happy moments we experienced in our younger days.  Thus, it seems that the feelings brought on by the old traditions are missing from today’s Christmas and other holidays.

Recently I read a diary kept by my mother during the early 1930s when she was in college, a young wife and a first-time mom.  It was a simpler time, yet the joys of the season seemed much more intense.  Christmas cards, visits from friends, putting up the Christmas tree and family dinners seemed more important in those days.  I’m sure that traditions of other cultures were more important then, too.

Many of the traditions of old have been reduced in importance, eliminated completely or downplayed because of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season today.

We still send out greeting cards, but few of our friends and relatives send cards.  They may send a holiday email that is not really personal.  Or they might call.  The warmth of the greeting card exchange seems lost.

No one feels comfortable in paying an unexpected visit to friends, neighbors and family.  During my mom’s time, there were many such visits every evening during the holiday season.

I remember buying gifts and putting up the Christmas tree just two or three days before Christmas—or even on Christmas Eve.  Now, people are putting up trees in November—or using synthetic trees.  My current tree goes together from three pieces, all with lights permanently attached.

I have not had people visit my home singing Christmas carols, nor have I been invited to walk around the neighborhood singing.  And don’t get me started about gift shopping.  Let me just say that the fact that most retail business takes place during the holiday season is not a holiday statistic to be proud of.  And hand-made gifts are rarely given anymore.

Family dinners and church also have suffered with the pressures of the season.  My wife and I attend church on Christmas Eve and host a family dinner on Christmas Day, but we feel we are out of touch with today’s view on how to celebrate the holidays.

So, what can we do?  Computer technology, time pressures, loss of family values and closeness to friends and family all reduce the joys and warmth of the holidays.  All we can do is treasure the memories we already have and try to adjust to what our younger peers and families are doing.

Perhaps the long-ago traditions of the holiday season will be brought back sometime in the future as a new way to celebrate.  I, personally, temper my holidays by watching some of the great movies about Christmases past.  I also suggest taking a day off during the hectic season by doing nothing but holiday things for one day.  This year, we visited downtown Chicago, looking in the store windows, having a festive lunch, doing a little shopping and looking at decorations.  It certainly helped us to develop the Christmas spirit.

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About Bill Leavitt


All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Bill Leavitt is a technical writer from Valparaiso. After retiring from a large corporation in Chicago, he did technical writing consulting for many companies. He currently teaches part-time at Purdue University Calumet. You can order Leavitt’s book, “Retirement: Life’s Greatest Adventure,” by sending $16.65 (includes shipping and sales tax) made payable to Write On Technical Writing, Inc., P.O. Box 132,Valparaiso, IN 46384-0132. Or, visit RetirementLifesGreatestAdventure.com for more information.

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