Scatter Joy

Posted by Colleen Newquist on 30th Jan 2024

Scatter Joy

"Tradition is not the worship of ashes but the preservation of fire."
-Gustav Mahler

I am a person who enjoys visiting the same place more than once. I like the adventure of going somewhere new, and I perhaps like even more the return trip. There is comfort in knowing what to expect; there is less stress when something is familiar.

And yet, I'm not one who likes doing the same things or visiting the same place again and again and again. I have several cousins, for example, who never tire of vacationing at Disney World. After a few times, I'd had my fill, for a good long while anyway.

And still, as I write this, I have to question myself. Don't I hike in Warren Dunes State Park again and again and again? At least a few times a week? I do. I do it for the exercise, and I do it because the woods, water, ever-changing seasons, and ever-shifting sands soothe my soul. It gives me joy. And that, I suppose, is the goal of doing any activity repeatedly. At least I hope it is. At least it should be.

Keep that in mind this holiday season. Does the tradition you're keeping bring joy? Terrific. Does it bring strife and stress? Rethink it. And maybe, just maybe, go somewhere new. Bake a new cookie recipe. Surprise someone with an anonymous gift. Gather a group together to sing. Reach out to an old friend. Drop a card in the mail to a new one.

Scatter joy.

’Tis the season—and the best tradition.

Colleen Newquist writes, doodles, plays outside, and cooks in Three Oaks, Michigan. To read more of her musings in Stop and Smell the Butter, visit

"Scatter Joy" illustration above by Colleen Newquist.