Why Breaking Tradition is So Important
Cleared of every day life, the visceral need took hold once again.
Provisions packed, cables unplugged, atlas mapped, hats on, doors slamming. I was ready to take on the icy cold of the east. Guided by the horizon and hugged by the mountains. The quietness of early Christmas morning enveloped the roads and us. It was my first Christmas apart from the familiar warmth of family and whatever remainder of tradition we could bare to muster.
There is a common quote that suggests that the world comes alive in the fall. Perhaps that may be true, but it’s the winter when the world is put on a pedestal. The delicate berries showcase a circular coat of ice. The sun shines brighter on the small frozen crystals of snowflakes. Even despite being dressed with snow, the trees manage to stand a little taller and a little prouder.
The white feathery ice crystal begins to fall in slow motion. The traffic inches, paces become more mindful, and a familiar calmness settles in.
It is amazing the effect that the delicate sixfold symmetry of a snowflake can have on humans. For some it is a nuisance. For some it is a wonderland. And for others it is a chance to stay warm at home. For me, it has become an instinctive pull to immerse myself outside.
The windows begin to fog and the cool air sneaks its way through the frames as the snow relentlessly swirls around me. I pull on my thick wool socks and quickly bind the green laces on my boots. My thick hat dulls any noise and creates a veil between myself and the outside world. I let the crunch of the snow beneath my boots lead my way.
Mountains climbed high but we wanted to climb higher. At times the snow was deep and the steps could be precarious. Everything remained static except the soft fluttering of snow. The miles tested our muscles and our mindset until we inched towards the top. A white-out ensued. Pine trees glazed with bright white ice like I’ve never seen before. Unable to flaunt its height, the summit demonstrated its strength with its wind proving to be unrelenting and unforgiving.
At the summit, words of caution and advice to turn back were carried through the wind. Others expressed difficulty in finding the intersecting trail that would connect us to the other side of the mountain. Icy wind hostilely lapping against any exposed skin made the time at the summit short lived.
Time paused as if I were able to slow the snowfall and the wind with my own eyes. Despite the belligerent cold, the summit incited an undeniable warmth within me. I see her in the pine trees that she loved. I see her in the snow that she desperately wished for every year. I hear her laugh with the wind.
I descended with a new lightness to my step.
* * *
She made Christmas good at our house. She decorated the whole house inside and out. We had to find a real pine tree the day after Thanksgiving. Warm candle lights were in every window. Our home smelled like cinnamon and pine cones. Her excitement and love was nothing short of contagious.
Three Christmases have now passed without my mother. Unsure of what to do, we initially tried in keeping the holidays the same. But like a watch missing a gear, they cannot work without an integral part.
All I knew was that I didn’t want to be in the same familiar town. I didn’t know how healing a change of scenery could be during an otherwise dreadful time. Naturally I had some sad moments. But I also laughed. Really laughed. I trekked around in fluffy snow with borrowed spikes from a friendly neighbor in Vermont. I stayed in a beautiful small apartment in upstate New York with the most cozy and warm lighting. I shared a delicious dinner and sorbet in a quaint hidden restaurant with someone I really care about.
Traditions are meant to be broken. Not only is change inevitable, but change can also be decidedly good. Choose to get outside. Choose to do something different. Choose to find what makes you happy.
On one of the trails, a couple wished a ‘Merry Christmas’.
Momentarily forgetting the day, I thought,
“Yeah… Yeah it is merry, isn’t it?”
Malinda Meadows is an Ohio native who was letting grief blanket her life.
She found healing through traveling and nature. She discovered changes of location led to changes in her mindset. It helped her process grief and forge a new path with greater optimism and happiness. Realizing the benefit of deliberate change, she now leads a more balanced and mindful life inspired by simple changes.
She blogs regularly at malindainthesnow.com to help others find change, however small, outside their box in order to live a happier, healthier life.