Thanksgiving, and shortly after all of the December holidays, always brings up the topic of traditions. I have a back & forth relationship with traditions. Some I love, some I dislike, some I love until they are conveyed in a manner I dislike.
Traditions, as in something done over a period of time on repeat, have a gazillion different reasons. Some don’t have any reason at all. And most people get warm, fuzzy feelings thinking & talking about their various traditions. How many happy thoughts begin with: "We always did…"? James & I love to reminisce about our family traditions… and have blended them into our own unique set over time.
Some traditions have no further reason than “Just because” or “That’s the way we have always done it.” Some people eat at x time on Thanksgiving, nap, & then go out for Friday morning sales. Some people have ham instead of turkey. Some always go to Midnight Mass at Christmas. They enjoy it, it works for them. Great, fantastic, carry on sir!
Some traditions have very specific reasons. My mom always put up the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend because that was the last long weekend before Christmas. She always took it down on or after January 6, which is the Epiphany (aka Wise Men arrive). She had distinct reasons why she did it that way. We always had a small family gathering for birthdays. Just Mom & Dad, me, & my 2 siblings. The reason was that it was a chance to be together.
No matter what the reason, people are very attached to their personal traditions. I was crushed the first year Mom didn’t put up the tree. I didn’t even live at home anymore but the tradition had that much power to undo my foundation. I recovered, but learned an important lesson about messing with the traditions of others.
The lesson was simply that each person (or group of people) has their own traditions & they can be powerful. Each approaches events, big & small, in their own way. Others aren’t, or shouldn’t be, expected to do something in the same way as anyone else. I would find it strange to assume someone else did something exactly the same way we do, and kind of boring. But please don't ask me to not participate in my traditions.
Which brings me to traditions I dislike. Generally, they aren’t actual traditions at all, but ways of conveying those traditions to others. I’m not going to mention specific instances. I could, already had it written, but I’m not looking for a fight. We all know it when we see it:
“But it’s tradition!”
“Why aren’t you participating in x?”
“What do you mean you don’t do y?”
Instead, I simply want to encourage all of us to remember – we each come from different life experiences, with different traditions, & It is Beautiful. Share your stories with others. Share the solemn, the joyful, the silly. Listen to the stories of others. Go ahead & acknowledge the differences. More importantly, find the similarities. Look underneath & see the joy people have when they experience their traditions.