Written by Clarissa Rice.
This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to the holidays and move naturally to the traditions associated with them. Traditions are beliefs, practices, and customs handed down from generation to generation. Some of them are hundreds of years old. Others are relatively new. Many traditions are so long established that they have the effect of an unwritten law. This is particularly true of the traditions of ancient religions. Traditions inspire connection, loyalty, and commitment. They also create belonging and comfort. They are often the glue, which holds a culture together. They promote adherence to duty, they set up expectations that lead to practices.
As seniors, we often mourn the loss of beloved traditions, and yet modern life has brought some changes.
Some traditions have been left behind because they no longer make sense today, or in some cases are destructive in practice. I’m sure we could all name a tradition, which is best forgotten. This year, my family will gather at a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner, not on Thursday, but on Wednesday evening. I can’t ever remember doing that before, but necessity sometimes dictates practice. Often when a tradition changes it is because a higher priority exists. Many years ago, when my children started to marry and have their own homes and children, I stopped having my traditional Christmas dinner on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve and moved to a Christmas party a week before, so my children could make their own
traditions or be available to travel to in-laws for celebrations. That way I could have my family together with me, and still, let them be open to establishing their own traditions. This has worked out very well for everyone.
A word of caution when establishing traditions, you may be stuck with them. I’ll close with a humorous story. A few years ago, my daughter-in-law, who is the stepmother to my grandchildren, prepared a delicious dinner for their Christmas celebration. Everyone enjoyed it very much. The following year, when she checked in with the kids to see what they wanted for the Christmas dinner, they said, “Let’s have the same one as last year, it was great.” So that’s what she did. The following year when she suggested a different menu. My teenage granddaughter said, “Oh no. We have to have the same one as last year. It’s a tradition.”
Later, my daughter-in-law shared this story with me and asked, “how did it get to be a tradition?” I replied, “You did it more than once.” Anticipating traditions in our lives will be a wonderful thing. May your holiday season be filled with warm, loving traditions.