There is a children’s book called “The Snowy Day”, and there’s a children’s video series based on that book as well. In one of those video episodes, the little boy, Peter, had walked over to his grandmother’s house to help her bring her gifts and traditional Christmas Eve dinner, homemade macaroni & cheese, back to Peter’s house for their annual Christmas celebration.
Without going into great detail about the episode, the Christmas goodies were placed on a snow saucer so they could be “pulled” easily back to Peter’s house. There was an accident along the way, and the saucer and all of its goodies, came crashing down a hill. The saucer and the macaroni and cheese were not salvageable. Peter became very sad and asked the question “Is it still Christmas without Nana’s Mac and Cheese?”
Today I wanted to talk a little about the idea of tradition and expectation. Traditions are the delivery of doctrines or practices, rites and customs handed down from generation to generation, such as having “Nana’s Mac & Cheese” every Christmas Eve. While there isn’t anything wrong with having traditions in our lives, there are some things that we need to be aware of so we can help our child in becoming a human being who doesn’t resist change when it comes along, or is constantly subject to punishing, fluctuating emotions when it does.
The little boy in the video, Peter, asked “Is it still Christmas Eve without Nana’s Mac & Cheese?” There was a certain sadness in that boy because, to him, it felt like something was missing that had always been there before. The act of having a tradition itself isn’t a problem. Identification with, a demand that Life remain in place the way I want it to be, traditions or otherwise, is where the problem lies.
How does one “become” sad just because Nana’s Mac & Cheese went by the wayside? Is the sadness really about Nanas’ Mac & Cheese not being a part of Christmas Eve like it appears to be, like it appears to point to? I’m using Nana’s Mac & Cheese as an example here, but it applies to anything in our own lives.
Could it be that when there is identification and demand that things remain in place as we WANT, insist and expect them to be, that part and parcel with that identification and demand comes its opposite that will have to be experienced, the “DON’T WANT” side of it.
The teeter totter/seesaw is one play structure with two sides. When one side is up, the other side is down. It’s no different with identification, it’s one thing with two sides. When there is identification with a demand that Life be a certain way, that demand comes part and parcel with both sides, the up and the down. Identification is laden with negative emotions. In other words, I’m happy when Life is going my way. I’m sad, angry, mad, resentful (you name it) when it’s not.
What’s interesting in that we believe the “happy” (up) emotion is not a negative one, but in truth it is. Why? Because it can turn to its opposite at the drop of a hat when Life challenges it. True happiness isn’t dependent on outer world events, good or bad. It wants what Life wants and doesn’t have an opposite.
What if we knew that what Life is offering us in those unwanted moments is actually something new? The only way to know the truth of that is to agree to wait and receive it in that very unwanted moment. Most people, including myself most of the time, resist that offering because we don’t want to bear the pain of what the voices of the past are telling us the unwanted moment means.
In that same video I spoke of with little Peter, later that evening his whole family was gathered for Christmas Eve. The doorbell kept ringing and every time he opened the door, a friend was there who had heard about Nana’s Mac & C
heese accident. Each friend brought an offering of food, a food that represented a tradition in their own family. The friends stayed and joined the family in a wonderful feast and celebration.
That was such a perfect example of how Life brings to our door something new all the time, if we would just agree to remain there and receive it.
Peter had a wonderful Christmas Eve after all. It was celebrated in an entirely different way. He would not have been able to enjoy that evening had he been identified with the old part of himself that just insisted on sulking because it wanted what it wanted - - Nana’s Mac & Cheese.
The earlier we share this kind of information with our child, the more flexible in Life they will be. They will learn to flow with it rather than resist what it brings. They will learn to want what life wants.
Exercise for the Week: Work with your child in an effort to share with them that it is ok to want things to be a certain way, but to know that if Life brings something “different”, that it’s nothing to fear, but something new to explore.
Image Courtesy of: Markus Winkler (seesaw if I use itP