Love the Holidays but Tired of the Traditions?

BY Matthew Christodoulou
Love the Holidays but Tired of the Traditions?
A New Way to Do the Holidays

The Holiday season is officially upon us. Growing up in Ontario, Canada, this time of year was always a time of excitement for so many reasons. As a child, it meant time off school, which meant more time to really play and be myself. With lots of snow on the ground, my friends and I would go out and play in every way possible making snow forts, having snowball fights, playing hockey, downhill sled races, building snowmen, skiing/snowboarding and more. It was always a time of joy where parents would be off work and families and friends would have the opportunity to come together, give gifts to one another and enjoy their time in celebration. The religious aspect of going to church and whatnot never resonated with me, even since I was very young, but I do see the benefits of how it can bring people together in love and joy.

One of the things that I enjoy most about this time of year is that it shows us a true glimpse of what life could be like on Earth when we choose to live in a way that is more harmonious to our natural state. It’s as though for two or three weeks, people forget about the stresses and heaviness of everyday life and choose to embrace the love, joy, peace, and unity that we all share as connected beings. It really is amazing.

With Toronto and the surrounding GTA (The Greater Toronto Area) suburbs being the most culturally diverse region in the world, I was blessed to have been exposed to various ways of how different cultures from around the world would celebrate different holidays. The term “Happy Holidays” was adopted in Canada years ago to replace “Merry Christmas” as a sign of respect and acknowledgement to all cultures because a large portion of the population does not celebrate Christmas.

Until I was around nine years old, my family was living in a townhouse complex in Pickering, a city in the east end of the GTA. To give you a bit of a glimpse of the diversity, I remember neighbours to the right of me being from Spain, neighbours to the left were Jamaican, a few doors down were from Afghanistan, Indians, Scottish, and other families scattered throughout the complex were usually first or second-generation Canadians with European ancestry. My own father emigrated from Cyprus, a small island in the Mediterranean, if you are not familiar. So, you get the jist of the melting pot, and this was only one small complex. The point I’m trying to make here is that no matter what each family chose to celebrate, it always came from a place of love and joy and unity, which from my viewpoint is our natural state. For all of the children in the complex, it was natural for us to see the variances in cultures and traditions and we grew up learning to accept one another for our differences.

Fast forward a few decades and now I am here living in Costa Rica, an absolutely beautiful paradise. At this time of year, it’s very hot and sunny here so of course there’s no snow, but the predominantly Roman Catholic population celebrates the tradition of Christmas. I find it fascinating to see a country where the majority of the culture comes from the same roots, and they all choose to partake in the same traditions such as making and eating the same foods, listening to the same songs, building their own version of the “portal navideño” (in English known as the nativity scene or birth of Jesus), they go to church mass and worship the traditions of the bible and so on. Additionally, because of the natural beauty, Costa Rica is a hot spot destination for travelers around the globe. This time of year shows us another aspect of our natural state because when we step away from the everyday hustle and bustle, we flow and play how we were meant to, travelling and exploring the beauty of the world, enriching our lives and experiences.

What stands out to me the most with my Holiday observations are these four things:

  1. We as humans love to do things collectively. And the more of us that do them together, the more empowering it makes us feel.
  2. When we step out of the daily grind and do something we love, we are living authentically and naturally.
  3. When we partake in collective traditions, we tend to do the same things year after year without really questioning why we do them or how it really makes us feel at the core.
  4. Even though these traditions may not resonate with us fully anymore, we are afraid to step out of them for a number of reasons, such as:

The fear of what others may think i.e. Being judged by friends, family and our communities. The fear of being isolated or being alone in how we feel and not having that collective empowerment that feels good. The fear of stepping into the unknown.

Let’s dive deeper into these …

1. Doing Things Collectively

We as humans love to do things collectively.

To me, this rings true because it represents the nature of everything being connected. When two forces of the same source merge together, it increases the power of that force twofold. And so, with that said, naturally we feel a comfort in doing things collectively in large groups because there is an underlying power that we all share and when we come together, it makes us feel empowered. We may not all understand it fully, but subconsciously we know it’s there and we can feel it, especially at this time of year. I think an important takeaway from this is understanding how we can utilize this connection and apply the power to create a world we all want to live and thrive in.

2. Living Authentically and Naturally

When we step out of the daily grind and do something we love, we are living authentically and naturally.

So much of what we do feels unnatural to us. For some people even backward. The whole grind of having to work a job and make money and all of life’s responsibilities can feel heavy and tiresome and that’s because it’s not natural. That’s why when we take some time off for the holidays, you see people in good spirits, happy, rested, well-fed, loving and joyful, etc. We travel. We gather. We give and share. It’s beautiful to see and feel because it’s in alignment with who we truly are and what isn’t in alignment becomes more obvious.

3. The Need for Change

When we partake in collective traditions, we tend to do the same things year after year without really questioning why we do them or how it really makes us feel at the core.

Now this observation does not only apply to cultural celebrations such as holidays, it applies to a lot of things we do in groups, all the way down to our own immediate family monad, but we’ll keep it focused on holidays for consistency. When it comes to Christmas for example, all the things I mentioned previously about how we carry out the tradition, we do them year after year. We do this because it’s simply what we’ve always known and have been doing since we can remember. And along with the love, joy, peace and unity that comes with the holidays, there is also a heavier side to it all. The gift-giving part plays a big role in that.

My family has never been super abundant financially, but my parents always did their best with what they had to try and make my sister and me happy, come Christmas morning. I remember at times I was super happy, but also times of ungratefulness in not liking something that someone had gifted to me. As I got older, I came to realize that it was the anticipation and expectation of receiving what I desired, that created potential disappointment and ungratefulness.

There has always been so much hype around this time of year for children in getting what they want, and through all the manipulation of marketing and advertising, it has done a great job of programming us to expect things, and if we do not get what we expect, we then create a myriad of emotions from disappointment, resentment, anger, shame and so on. I remember at times feeling ashamed that other kids at school got better things or more things than I did. I would compare myself and my family’s experience to that of others who were more financially abundant or those that just chose to invest more into giving gifts. And because of all this anticipation and expectation, for buyers, it can create a huge level of distress and anguish for not wanting to disappoint.

And not only gift-giving, but hosting people for family dinners or things like corporate parties, it can bring a lot of emotion and stress with it as well, essentially defeating the purpose of the gathering in the first place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my family argue because of the stress over wanting holiday functions to be a certain way.

When looking at the heavier side of it, we continue to repeat these same uncomfortable patterns year after year, without questioning whether or not we actually want to continue doing it and if it truly resonates with us anymore. However, this is not the case for everyone as the collective consciousness of humanity is undergoing a significant shift right now, more and more people around the world are beginning to question how we’re functioning on the planet. A big part of this is because what we have been doing for a very long time is not harmonious with our natural state of being. This is why so many people are feeling that we’ve outgrown certain experiences and feel a need for change. But with change comes challenges. And that leads me to my next point.

4. Being Afraid of Change

Even though these traditions may not resonate with us fully anymore, we are afraid to step out of them for a number of reasons such as:

  1. The fear of what others may think i.e. Being judged by friends, family and our communities
  2. The fear of being isolated or being alone in how we feel and not having that collective empowerment that feels good
  3. The fear of stepping into the unknown

This one is huge. As more people are beginning to question our reality, religious/holiday traditions are becoming challenged. And for those of us who it no longer resonates with, it can be difficult to take that step forward into a new way of life where the ways of the old no longer limit our life experience. With taking this step, stories of fear can play out in our minds. It’s very common for us to be limited by the thought of what others may think of us. And it’s very easy for us to judge another, as judgement runs rampant on auto-pilot in our minds.

The key to moving beyond this is first realizing that fear is just an illusion. It’s not real. It’s simply a story in our minds and nothing more. It’s when we buy into it as being true that we create all the sensations and feelings and stories around it. When it comes to worrying or being afraid of what other people think, always remember this, people are going to think whatever they choose in any given situation and we cannot control that. We can try to avoid being judged by not doing things that we feel we should be, which then becomes very uncomfortable, but it doesn’t make it go away and it’s not a real solution for anyone.

We are here to overcome our fears and move forward into a new level of consciousness. A new, expanded state of being that is free and limitless. Does it serve to hold back being who you feel you want to be in your heart and at the core of your being? Certainly not. So, if you are feeling you want to change the way you experience this time of year, I say go for it and detach from what others may think or feel about you.

Let’s say that you are pondering this step to change the way you experience the holiday season by not being involved or celebrating in ways you have all your life. Another fear of feeling alone or isolated can present. Well, know that you are not alone! Thousands of people all around the world are feeling the same thing and being brave enough to take this step of sovereignty and freedom in their lives and it’s a beautiful feeling. There is nothing more fulfilling and wholesome than being true to yourself and what your heart resonates with. With that knowing and inner guidance comes a feeling of self-empowerment that is so fulfilling that even if you are alone in your experience (for the time being and depending on your situation) you’re ok with it. Just know that people all over the world are with you!

I stopped celebrating Christmas with my family years ago as it no longer resonated and I feel that I want to be an example for others that we don’t have to continue archaic traditions if we don’t want to. It was difficult and weird for my family at first, and all kinds of judgement and other stories were projected at me, but continuing to live by my inner guidance and staying true to myself has built strength and empowerment I am very grateful for. Eventually, they gave up trying to persuade me to come back into the tradition and just accepted that I wasn’t going to change. Now I still have attended dinners and gatherings during this time of year, as I think being with friends and family is always a great thing if you feel called to be, I just don’t engage in the traditional aspect like I used to.

Finally, maybe there is a fear of stepping into the unknown coming up? This one is quite common for many of us. The ego-mind is programmed in a way that wants to protect us and create a feeling of safety and security and it uses our past experiences to project a potential future based on what we have learned and know. But when we don’t know what the future could look like, it goes into a state of fear. This is also an illusion. The only thing certain in life is change.

And with that, we are designed to naturally flow with the universe which is always unknown! The unknown is pure potential and in an unlimited state, we have the ability to create whatever our hearts desire as the creators that we are. If you are feeling to create change and a new experience in your life, you are in alignment with your true self. Adventure on! The universe has your back and a new path awaits.

In closing, this time of year always creates beautiful collective energy of love, joy, peace, and unity, but the old traditions limit us from experiencing something new and can be heavy. If you’re craving change and something new, you are in a beautiful space of growing and evolving. Don’t let fear stop you from creating a life you want to live, no matter what. Change is the only thing certain, so flow with it and be the change.

BY Matthew Christodoulou
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