Ah, Christmas season is finally over. The chaos has calmed a bit. I still have things coming up (it never ends), but I can think again. Speaking of thinking, I got to thinking about a few things this holiday season. One of those things being traditions.

My oldest daughter chose a name when she came out. She socially transitioned- letting her friends and our family know. Then we enrolled her in school with her chosen name as her preference. Our family has slowly but surely accepted her as the new name and all is well. Though, now she wants to change that name to a different one. My immediate reaction was, “Ah, man- I just got everyone using this name. How am I going to get them to accept this?” Then my immediate next thought was, “Wow, that was a selfish reaction. She is finding herself and sometimes finding yourself means changing your life.”

Why would it be such a big deal if we “change” her first name again? Everyone might be confused at first, but they were last time too. I feel like experimenting with a name is normal in this situation (and confirmed on sites such as this) but I still find myself scared to tell the family and friends that may have been on the fence with acceptance, that we finally got comfortable with it. I can hear them questioning already, “If she isn’t sure about something like a name change, how can she even be sure about a whole gender change?” or something like that. Though, going by a name and identifying as a gender are significantly different. I don’t know. Is this even a “tradition?” Either way – I think I need to be a supportive mother and accept my baby by her new name, and stand behind her when she decides to tell family and friends.

Maybe when I get married this year and I’m changing my last name anyway, I could change my middle name. Lead by example and show changing our names isn’t that big of a deal. People change and shift over time. Sometimes a name change can be a door closing on that last chapter of our lives, and a door opening into the new chapter. Why not? Now that I think about it, one of my male cousins is already paving the way a little. When he recently married, he hyphenated his last name to his+hers, while she solely kept her last name. That’s not traditional, that’s for sure (and I support them fully!). Whatever makes you happy and comfortable, friends.

Another thing popped up over the holiday season- discussion of some baby showers being planned this year. I have both a sister and a cousin welcoming in new additions to the family this year. Neither of them are traditional people. Both are opting for a co-ed baby shower. Child-rearing isn’t just a mother’s role anymore. I think some older ladies are feeling this is a little awkward, strange, or we just don’t do things the same as we used to – but isn’t that a good thing? When we find struggles in life in general, we should evolve and adjust to a better way. Gender roles are outdated. Fathers should change diapers, care about the items received for a baby shower, help with decisions being made about the child, and help to raise them. Parenthood is a partnership.

I still support traditions. Traditions make us feel cozy and comfortable, with something remaining the same over the years – but they can evolve. Have a tradition in your life that makes you think of how things used to be in a fond, nostalgic way but it just doesn’t serve you? Evolve it. Have the baby shower, but invite people no matter their gender. Stop making peanut bars like you did with grandma, and continue the baking tradition – but make what you like! Remember that time with grandma while you bake the new thing. We don’t have to stay the same forever. Change is good. I’m going to be re-evaluating all of the “traditions” in my life and adjusting them to serve me and my family better. There’s no reason to live in the past.

Winter Solstice and Stuff

So, I’ve been thinking about Christmas. I’m not religious in the slightest, but my best friend is. I’ll talk about my feelings on “best friends” later – reminder for myself. No matter your views or thoughts on Winter Holidays (yes- there is more than just “Christmas”), I think the true “meaning of the season” is lost. When the holidays are upon me, I want to step back and appreciate what I have in my life. The relationships, the tangible aspects, the year that has passed, all the years that have passed…

Obligatory gift-giving is starting to become tedious and off-putting. I don’t want a gift from someone because it is a day of the year. I still want to celebrate, sure – but can we cut the second mortgage and left leg? How about if I see something that I think you just need or absolutely reminds me of you, I’ll grab it. If I don’t see anything that does such, I can make you a thoughtful little note or card. Spending time together, sharing recipes and memories, making new memories, reflecting, and keeping one another warm. That’s what I want out of the winter holidays. Joy, warmth, food, happiness, and memories.

How do we re-write the script on these traditions? I guess, let’s reflect on a few traditions with different origins to start. Of course, I won’t get every origin of winter holidays in the slightest. I’ll just be brushing upon the surface of some interesting ones for funsies.

  • Pagan:
    • Yule:
      • Celebration of longer and brighter days ahead
      • Masculine tradition was to bring a “yule log” home to burn while the feminine tradition was to decorate the home with various evergreens and candles to welcome light in
      • Feast of Juul: A yule (“juul”) log was ceremoniously burned to honor Thor and encourage/honor warmth, light, and life.
    • Saturnalia:
      • Ritualistically offering gifts to the gods during winter sowing season (farmers)
      • Honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture and time
      • Decor such as wreaths, evergreens, and togas
      • Music, dancing, gambling, feasting, exchanging gifts in honor of the return of light after the solstice.
      • Known for being a large, loud, “best of times” celebration
  • Dongzhi Festival:
    • A Chinese Festival celebrating the arrival of the winter solstice
    • Representative of yin and yang (positive and negative)
    • Families gather to celebrate positivity in longer daylight hours– often while feasting.
    • Dumplings are a staple in feasts to represent an ancient legend revolving around feeding the homeless to help them stay warm. (A traditional symbol being an ear – representative of an ear prevented from frostbite)
  • Ursul:
    • Romanian celebration
    • Dancing in bear costumes and celebrating at New Year to drive evil spirits away, as well as encouraging nutrient-rich soil for the coming year
    • Joyful celebration in anticipation of the coming year
  • Native American:
    • Various Indigenous folks of the Americas celebrated (or do celebrate) the winter solstice with warmth and story-telling. It is a traditional way to entertain and teach children/pass wisdom along in the cold, windy, winter months when one was better off inside than out.
    • The story-telling of certain animals was often done in the winter when these animals were hibernating, so they wouldn’t hear themselves being spoken of.
    • The holiday is meant for family and the sharing of knowledge

I left Christianity out of the mix, because (based on every historical piece I’ve ever read on it) it’s just an amalgamation of various holidays celebrated prior to its existence. Don’t come at me, America – It’s not a war against Christmas. I enjoy the holiday, I just don’t think anyone is true to its roots anymore. It’s a commercial holiday for MASS profit.

I think before next year, I need to come up with a better plan to start getting back to the root of its existence. Don’t worry, the kids will still get some presents.


(Yeah, this was the most half-assed “research” ever but you get the idea. I know I left a ton of shit out. It was just for fun. I’m tired of “Walmart, Target, and Amazon Christmas”)

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