'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menofestiff; Trad/non-Trad

The DB gang asked us to share something about how we celebrate Christmas.

1.the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.

The Mac Clan doesn't really have traditions. Of course, there is the general and prevailing thing of 'one must decorate' and gift-giving, but this is not in the least unique. What about the YAMster though?

By the time I was seven and asking to attend Sunday School, I was starting to set myself apart from the rest of the family unit, which had no particular interest - beyond the school nativity play - as to the spiritual purpose of the festival. Majority rules, so I carried on being part of the usual commercial madness. It must be stated, for the record that, in childhood years at least, my parents (more specifically, mother) ensured that we kept our heads level as to what was to be expected from under the tree. We were very well gifted, but always sensibly. It was also ensured that we wrote our thank you letters to grandparents, aunts and uncles.

The time came when the family had to be split apart due to working requirements for the father and the clan, as a group, growing up and moving out. The getting together for Christmas then started to mean a bit more about simply being a unit again. However, I noticed that there was a lot of what might be termed as 'compensation' giving, with an excess of gifts and 'stuff'. I have never been one for 'stuff'. It gathers and festers and haunts one with 'well I was a gift so you have to keep me.'

As I grew and started to live my own life, I opted to focus on the spiritual nature of Christmas. This did cause a few times of discord in the gatherings. To be mocked by strangers is one thing. To be mocked by one's own can be painful. Mother was always my guardian, though she herself may not have held my views - and this must be seen in the context of most families, that anything different must surely mean a bid for attention and not that it actually holds any true value. Sibling envy and rivalry. I never had any energy or interest in it, but the two younger ones did - and still do. (Not damagingly so and the Love outweighs it most times - but occasionally uncomfortable!) It does get tiring feeling that one has to defend oneself and one's choices, though.

Emigration to Australia gave me the freedom to celebrate as I saw fit and not have to justify it to anyone. I joined in with friends' gatherings from time to time, but mostly I spent Christmases alone - and enjoyed them thoroughly. 

As I adopted and adapted over the years, in my spiritual understanding and practice, I never lost my connection with Yeshu, therefore Christmas (and Easter) still hold great significance for me. Indeed, my understanding of His teachings has been much improved and strengthened as a result of taking on Advaitic philosophy and Hinduism. I also choose to acknowledge the role of nature and how it played its part in the 'tradition' we all practice, of bringing in the greenery and burning candles. In OZ, that took the form of eucalypt branches and bunches of boronia; here it is the more familiar holly and ivy.

When I repatriated (four years now!), I had to deal with the culture shock of 'the family gathering'. The Maestro was still with us and it turned out that the Clan had developed a 'non-trad' trad of always spending the big day at her house, with her daddy cooking the main meal and Mac1 doing the drinks and pudding. Boxing day was always spent, apparently, with Mac2 organising things. I fell in with this, as I had not really had an opportunity to get to know my niece and it was a fine bonding time. Sadly, it was Christmas two years ago now that she fell into her final, fatal coma.

Last year, mainly for my siblings' succour, I joined in the gathering at father's house; but there was definitely a sense of lack, for them, and it was something I could not fill. This year, it will be very different again, as all seek to find how they adapt to what had become their own particular tradition. 

For me, there is a minimal association and therefore it has been the chance to say that I will revert to having Christmas alone. Each year may be different, depending on others' movements, but it will be good this year, at least, to spend it in meditation, chanting, praise and simplicity. For food, I am planning a nut roast, with roast pumpkin and potato, stuffed capsicum and a herb sauce. There may be some chocolate involved at some point.

I did put together a little box of 'mindings' for each of the clan - this year Mara's mice are getting a showing! Plus a few little op-shop finds. The giving is for Love and fun and nothing more. I took them over earlier in the month to await the arrival of Macs 2 and 3 from the Southern regions... there is no expectation or desire for 'return' gesture. I shall go over to Edinburgh on their last night there, in order to share a little time altogether. When they head South again, I shall remain with the father for Hogmanay and the first week of the year.

Adaptation and non-tradition leave one free to actually enjoy the festival. When things get set in stone, that is when problems arise - because everyone has their own interpretation! To cry, 'but it's always done this or that way' is neither helpful or peaceful.

Wherever and however you are going to be celebrating your end-of-year holidays, I pray that it is everything you wish for and that, most of all, Joy prevails.

Love and Blessings, YAM xx


  1. YAM Aunty what a beautifully written 'traditions' post. I felt as if I was on your shoulder watching as you remembered. Thank you for all the insight and lovely words.
    Traditions have changed as our parents have passed but we as you said adapted...and made things work.
    Hugs kitty kisses Cecilia Bryan and Madi

  2. Love and blessings to you, too, dear Yam.Traditions do move and reform with the time and tide; it's best to move with them.

  3. Thank you for sharing this post. Our "traditions" have changed too. With each new generation come the challenge of finding a balance between the old way of celebrating and the new ways to be created. When we all keep our minds and hearts open to each other, it can all be a very peaceful and pleasant journey.

  4. You do have a nice smile. This year I pretty much been a hum bug.
    Coffee is on

  5. Thank you. For years I loved spending most of my Christmases alone. Not all, but most. Not for any spiritual reason, it was just a chance to be alone for a few days enjoying Christmas films and shows on television and doing what I wanted. Since there was never any gift giving within our family (although my sister and I now have started to a certain degree), it was never that commercial to begin with anyway.

    My mother (who is a clever woman) never requested that we spend Christmas at home. She prefers I come once every 3-5 years and want to come than that I come every year and hating every moment.

    This year my family is coming to me to spend Christmas. I am really looking forward to it, especially since I do start missing them all more and more.

  6. I also have spent a lot of Christmases after Christmas eve services alone but then not alone because I always had a Scot. Being allergic to eucalypt your holidays in Oz would have killed me. But truly we have lost the true meaning of the holiday with all the hustle and bustle. Yesterday I just took the time to watch other people rushing around doing their holiday shopping and contemplated the true meaning of the holiday.
    You are one of those blessings that passed through our lives here.
    Sweet William The Scot

  7. We all enjoy being together with family. That is most important.

  8. We agree that the presents get out of hand and at least one branch of our family has agreed to dial it back. We just like to hang out with loved ones...and eat!

  9. Such a beautifully written piece on what is really important...This year, I have found myself concentrating more on the Advent season of preparing for the first time and found it very comforting!

  10. Interesting how such evolve and change. Mine sure has!

  11. A day to oneself to rest and reflect can be a very joyous celebration. Enjoy!

  12. What a lovely, thoughtful post plus such a beautiful photo of you. The spiritual significance of Christmas is very central to us. It was not part of my childhood. How interesting that you’ve sought spiritual understanding from such an early age. As for traditions, how relaxed things became when I no longer felt driven by a big checklist. Your menu sounds delicious; for us (my husband and myself) it will be potato soup, homemade bread and gingerbread with fresh whipped cream. It will be quiet this year, giving time for reflection and thankfulness.

  13. We will spend Christmas eve with our son,DILove's children and her father. We are thinking chili at home for Christmas day. namaste, janice xx

  14. We think being flexible allows you to enjoy the season more. Most of our traditions have ended as the human children are adults and we are finding new traditions to enjoy with them and the new families they are creating. Meowy Christmas and Happy New Year

  15. Every time I stop by you give me new insights and things to think about. You are a beautiful lady inside and out. I will try, once again, to "follow." Have a wonderful Christmas.

  16. That was really a cool piece. TW tends to spend the holidays with Pop and I rather than the big family. There is a big get together once a year at the holidays but the family is mostly about keeping Christ in Christmas and less about gifts. TW usually brings some homemade fudge.


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