The Lovely Day I Stopped Inconviencing Myself to Follow Traditions that are not Important to Me.

Lovely Day by Bill Withers

When I wake up in the morning, love
And the sunlight hurts my eyes
And something without warning, love
Bears heavy on my mind Then I look at you
And the world’s alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it’s gonna be
A lovely day
A lovely day When the day that lies ahead of me
Seems impossible to face
When someone else instead of me
Always seems to know the way Then I look at you
And the world’s alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it’s gonna be
A lovely day
A lovely day When the day that lies ahead of me
Seems impossible to face
When someone else instead of me
Always seems to know the way Then I look at you
And the world’s alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it’s gonna be
A lovely day
A lovely day

When I woke up today to some tuba music at 3AM, I couldn’t have been happier. I’ve woken up angry before, but it just so happens that today I didn’t. I’m lucky that I tend to wake up in a really good mood, almost always. My sister is the opposite, she may throw something at you if you wake her up too early. But not me, even though I can’t keep up at night and drag through dinner time, I can trust that I will have a good day, at least in the morning time.

The song “Lovely Day” is how I feel about my son Milo, yesterday was his first day with RIE (baby school), he was born in March and he feels like he grew up in a million ways already (not every way, but too many for me). He was singing in class, we do a lot of singing since he was born. I’m happy that both my kids sometimes sing, it’s not about how it sounds, it’s about that kind of joy that they must be feeling to start singing. I hope I remember to tell my daughter I love hearing her sing, her best friend asked her to stop singing while they were riding an inflatable goose in the ocean and she took it really hard, I guess I didn’t help her through it much because she always tells me to stop singing (schadenfreude a bit I guess). I helped a little, I told her it was rude and asked how it made her feel, I let her know she didn’t have to choose to be around that friend, but also that everyone is sometimes rude and we have to try not to take it personally as best we can and grieve the sadness to get through it, but I didn’t yet tell her how much I enjoy her singing on a normal day, that it lightens my heart and makes me feel like everything is okay with the world.

Yesterday I decided not to inconvenience myself following traditions that are not important to me. I wrote myself a note “I won’t inconvenience myself to follow traditions that aren’t important to me.” I didn’t want to forget and I was already sleepy. Yesterday I asked my husband if Christmas was important to him and how much he liked it, he said that it was, he liked it 8/10. But the past few years it hasn’t been that nice, his brother didn’t want to come out of his room and be around, many people were absent who started their own families, the small children have been almost completely gift-fixated and unsatisfied with both waiting and the gifts they get. It’s so unpleasant, mundane, rushed, busy, and irritating to see how materialistic the kids are that I couldn’t even understand what my husband likes about Christmas. I also felt trapped, as if there was no way I could avoid having my daughter grow up to be like that as well, right now she is four and she isn’t like that yet. She told me yesterday in the car that her mommy, daddy, and baby brother were what she “loved” most in life and that all the things she bought were things she “liked,” it was so important for me to hear that from her, so healing, so empowering. It was the second time that something she said seemed to stop time and connect directly to my soul and feed something in me to let me grow immediately, like a miracle grow fertilizer for my heart. Rachel Macy Stafford talks about those moments in parenting and until it happens to you, it may seem irritatingly sentimental, or imaginary, but if it’s ever happened to you, it doesn’t, you know what she is talking about is 100% real and valuable and rare, yet tangible. The first time my daughter simply struggled very hard to say “I love you” but she couldn’t talk yet, so it sounded like when dogs bark “I love you,” it was such a struggle to form the actual sounds, I have no idea how old she was, but I think she was about three months old and the act of it will be with me for the rest of my life, if I don’t remember anything else about her, what I remember will be the time I saw how much effort she put forth to let me know that she loved me.

I’ve been feeling trapped by materialism, that I couldn’t raise my children to appreciate what they have in America. A lot of people are materialistic here, a lot of advertising happens, a lot of people celebrate Christmas via gifts and nothing else, but I don’t have to follow any of those trends. I was thinking about taking my daughter to Mexico for a few months to learn to be humble and grateful, but all I really needed to do was to become humble and grateful because I am what she seems most.

Eventually I will take my daughter to Mexico to solidify her Spanish, to be immersed in her father’s culture, to explore, to learn, to enjoy, but I won’t rely on that to show her she can appreciate what she has and be grateful for life instead of chasing more and more toys and things just because some other people around us are doing so.

We can take our own path without complaining about or changing anyone else’s path or choices.

It’s like level 2 of proactivity for me.

Level 1 was changing my own habits that no one knew about, that no one opposed, that no one saw.

Level 2 has been having to discuss with my husband what traditions he loves and wants vs the ones that are not important for him, he didn’t like talking about it, it was tense and unpleasant, he asked me why I was asking, but it was important for me to be able to respect exactly what he cares about without blindly following a holiday I don’t care about. Example, he doesn’t care about daisy chains, caroling, popcorn chains, ext, he cares about being around friends and family, and that’s beautiful and admirable and I will inconvenience myself to follow the things that directly matter to my husband, because my husband’s feeling matter to me, but what I won’t do is follow any of the other parts of the holiday that no one in my family cares about just because I see it in adds or it sparks joy for someone somewhere or I imagine that I have to because something made me feel like social pressure had a right to dictate how I spend my free time and money.

I am escaping from social holiday pressure and I’m not going back.

I’m not going to blindly turn down any requests from my husband, daughter or son, but I’m going to think about them, how they align with our values and resources and make sure my overall life balance comes first not second and I am going to blindly turn down any kind of purchase or activity that neither I nor my husband, daughter or son is asking for. We are going to forge our holidays freshly as history will be honest holidays continuously undergo drastic changes and holidays never exist unchanged for long. Christmas was a parade of costumes much like carnival, it has been a celebration of the sun God Appollo, it has been a celebration of the celestial sun coming back after the darkest nights of the year, a celebration of warmth coming back, a celebration of debauchery, a celebration of Christianity, shunned by Christianity prior, last year I watched “Christmas Unwrapped: The History of Christmas” and was surprised at how many different ways it has changed, it was illegal in the USA when the country was founded, it is now a holiday that 90% of Americans celebrate and 51% of them religiously (according to the article “How Many Americans Celebrate Christmas? It’s Time To Get Into The Holiday Spirit“). I don’t appreciate the pressure in the title, by the way, today is Sunday, I choose to have a spirit of calm and reflection today and I don’t want that trampled on by other people’s suggestion that I have to “get into a spirit of celebration,” because they said so.

I find it silly society finds it appropriate to tell other people what to do with their spirit and sillier that most of my life I let that stress me out. I think I’m done with being bullied by adds, articles ext.

I’m completely supportive of people finding and doing non-hurtful things that they enjoy for the holidays, but one person’s preference does not need to be pushed on more and more people to validate it. The 90% of people who enjoy Christmas do not need to bully the other 10% to join to have fun, it Christmas is good it will still be good without forcing people who don’t want to participate to join in.

So once I thought I couldn’t live in the USA without feeling stressed, rushed and pressured about the holidays, but then two things happened, one I realized I have control over myself and I stopped choosing to respond that way to the suggestion by other people, advertising, or imaginary views of society and two I connected to my own family about what they enjoyed (which was much less of a burden than the holidays as a whole as presented by advertisements, movies, TV ext) and I decided mindfully what I was willing and able to be a part of in a healthy way.

Some kids may be disappointed this year that I don’t buy them anything, but they were disappointed every year I bought them anything as well, because it wasn’t enough, even if it was right, it wasn’t enough for them, so in a way their disappointment was what freed me emotionally, if I can disappoint all the kids for free, then why spend hundreds of dollars to disappoint them? If they don’t feel loved with gifts, as they shouldn’t, because gifts “are not love,” then do I “have to” do that just because 90% of other people in the country are doing that. I’m not fat and the average American is 17 lbs overweight, do I need to gain 17 lbs just because other people in the country are doing that? I think not. I think it’s my choice and I choose to have a non-materialistic Christmas with very little decoration, overspending, effort or stress.

A look at modern America:

Here’s what average looks like in America, according to U.S. Census data, Pew Research Center findings, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Institute of Retirement Security, NerdWallet and the CDC:

  • The average American household is about $131,000 in debt.
  • The average American spends $69 a day.
  • The average American has $34 in their pocket.
  • The average American watches 33 hours of TV a week.
  • The average American reads just four books a year.
  • The average American works 34.4 hours per week.
  • The average American is 17 pounds overweight.
  • The average American spends 116 minutes a day, or about two hours, on social media.
  • The average American spends five hours a day on their cell phone.
  • The average American consumes 11 alcoholic drinks a week.
  • The average American exercises just 17 minutes a day.
  • The average American has less than $1,000 in savings.
  • The average American makes about $48,000 a year.

I don’t want to say I’m doing better, but I’m doing differently, I’m living with a strong joy in my heart, I’m fit not because I feel compelled to look good to others, but so I can walk places I like to go, play with my kids and teach martial arts, I’m still about $42,000 in debt, but I’m not ashamed by the debt anymore, or crushed by the feeling of having children without owning our own house or being able to afford their future college ext, we may live humbly, but our overall life quality is high, we have love and music and good education, health and good food, very good friends, supportive family, we live in Hawaii for half the year and California for the other half, so we can access the wonderful schools, beaches and nature in Hawaii and the many science activities, friends and family in California. I think I know exactly what a normal American life feels like, I used to work 76-126 hours a week (since I worked in health care it’s legal, possible and common) and still have no money after paying for college. I worked long hours, spent too much and had too little to show for the sacrifice of not having time for personal growth, passion projects or well being. I know what it’s like, the way to change is to know that you don’t have to, you choose to and you don’t always have to take the highest money-making choice or buy what other people have or eat or do or watch what other people suggest that you do, people suggest you try things they like, not out of malice, but because “they like” them, but at a point it becomes necessary for well being to live the way that “you like” to the extent that you can and it’s surprising how far you can make changes that once felt beyond your control when you start dancing in the bathroom instead of waiting, no one stops you, when you smile at the things you love, no one stops you, when you order two of your favorite side dishes instead of the default ones, no one stops you. No one stops you from living your best life more than you do and no one else can give you true permission to start except you.

One thought on “The Lovely Day I Stopped Inconviencing Myself to Follow Traditions that are not Important to Me.

  1. Lovie Price says:

    completely agree and have covered this topic as well..my( grown ) children and my parents were made aware a few years back that i would no longer be subscribing to most traditions or holidays.The exceptions being my 2 grandsons birthdays. For years we had only done polly annas for the adults and bought for all the kids. Then we stopped polly annas and now we are down to buying only for the 2 grandchildren between 7 of us adults. It’s been so much better. I have not decorated at all for several years as well. Consumerism is a huge pet peeve for me!

    Like

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