Living with cancer blog

Celebrating traditions brings joy to life

By Lonnie Fynskov, R.N. December 29, 2016

Traditions play a big part in the lives of many this time of year.  Religious celebrations, special foods, and family gatherings occupy much of the seasonal calendar.

These additional activities can add pressure to an already busy schedule, but frequently are faithfully continued anyway because of their value.

Our New Year's morning almost always starts out the same. My husband oversees the time-consuming production of the Danish pancakes, aebleskiver.

I bake the Dutch pigs-in-the-blanket while the rest of the family prepares the other items. When we finally sit at the table we all go to our traditional spot ... even though our kids are grown and have their own homes.

As we savor these once-a -year special foods and time together, we always talk about the same two questions: What was one of the highlights of the past year for you? What is one thing you are most looking forward to in the upcoming year?

Some answers are fairly predictable, such as the arrival of a new baby or a long-anticipated vacation finally becoming a reality. Other responses are more surprising: a day in pajamas, binge watching a favorite television series with a huge bowl of popcorn, or an unexpected conversation that helped heal a broken friendship.

The conversation is not about competing for the most exciting experience, but rather sharing the joys we experience moving through life together. Hearing these stories is a wonderful way to close out one year and begin another. It helps me remember all the good things in life because each year brings challenges.

New problems may arise while others we've walked with for a long time may continue.  It's natural to give a lot of thought and time to those situations. Creating and remembering joy filled times is a tradition to hang on to. I just might make a pajama date with a bowl of popcorn and the history channel.

What traditions are important to you? I'd love to learn how they bring you joy. Please share in the comments below.

All the best,


Dec. 29, 2016