Monday, December 24, 2007

Tradition - Tradition!

I’ve been thinking about traditions lately since Christmas is the “BIG” time of year when old traditions are resurrected…and some new traditions begin...or try to begin.

As TEVYE, the father in "Fiddler on the Roof" would say, “TRADITION – TRADITION!” Papa had a conflict with tradition...especially as his children were growing into adulthood. He felt he had to follow the old ways of doing things, because they had always been a part of his life. Yet at the same time - he was seeing that the traditions were causing problems between him and his children. "Tradition!"

Are you stuck in a tradition rut? Are you doing something the same year after year – whether or not you enjoy it? Are you sticking with something just because that is how your mom or dad or grandparents did something? Are you doing it because you’re afraid that your old spinster aunt Jane is gonna be grouchy if you don’t? …Or are you doing it because you really like doing it and you can’t think of anything you’d rather do?

Do you have some old traditions you'd like to fling out the door because they don't really fit your family anymore? Maybe they were fine before you were married or had children. Maybe they were fine as long as dear old dad was in the picture, but he's been gone for 2 years now.

Or are you so busy with your old traditions, that you have no room for new traditions? Your cousin invited you to a Christmas Operetta but you declined because of tradition…you ALWAYS pick out your Christmas tree on that date…or some new friends ask you to come over to their Christmas Eve potluck but you decline for the same reason – tradition.

Are you willing to break an old tradition in order to begin a new one? Or to skip a year or two of a tradition in order to try something new?

Once you get married and join yourself to another family – it can be kind of tricky to meld together your traditions, your spouse’s traditions and also have room to make some new traditions.

Maybe you have spent Christmas morning with YOUR family every Christmas since you were, well, born. But now you are married and have children of your own and in-laws (or out-laws as it may be).

You really don’t like dragging the kids away from their newly opened presents to head out for an hour drive to your mom & dad’s house…and after lunch at their house, you’ll be rushing over to your husband’s Aunt Aggies for an evening Christmas dinner.

What would happen if you just decided to do something different? Guess what? The roof won’t fall in. Your Christmas won’t be ruined. Maybe Aunt Aggie will be grouched for awhile – but really that’s her problem, not yours (and really what doesn't Aunt Aggie get grouched about?) Maybe your brother will be grouched b/c you’re not bringing your made-from-scratch Cinnamon Chocolate Ginger Bears…again – that’s just his problem.

I believe we ought to honor our parents even when we are old and gray ourselves, but what about honoring your spouse and honoring your children too?

If you do plan on breaking a tradition that affects other people, don’t wait until a month before the event. Finish that tradition one last time. Then wait at least a week or two, or maybe a month and then bring up the subject.

Discuss the positive aspects of that tradition and some happy memories from it – then explain (don’t ask permission) what you’ll be doing in the future.

My family lives 1000 miles away up north, so due to the distance and the close proximity to the north pole, and therefore possibly bad driving conditions, we never get together with them for Christmas. We do not get together with my dh's family until almost a week after Christmas, so Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and Boxing Day (for the sake of my Canadian readers) – we are home alone.

In past years, when it’s just been our family of four, I would make a nice Christmas Dinner…maybe a turkey or cornish hens...

So what Christmas tradition am I going to make or break this year? I’m not going to fix a Christmas Dinner for just the four of us. Instead we’re going to go to a Chinese restaurant.

My dh and I love Chinese food (well American-Chinese food) and our two kids have never been to a Chinese restaurant. Oh yeah – and Chinese restaurants are some of the ONLY restaurants open Christmas Day. Will this be the start of a new tradition? Too early to tell - but I like having the freedom to do something different...and to not be tied to doing something just because it's the traditional way of doing things.

Here is part of one of my favorite songs from “Fiddler on the Roof”…

Who, day and night, must scramble for a living,
Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers?
And who has the right, as master of the house,
To have the final word at home?

The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.
The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.

Who must know the way to make a proper home,
A quiet home, a kosher home?
Who must raise the family and run the home,
So Papa's free to read the holy books?

The Mama, the Mama! Tradition!
The Mama, the Mama! Tradition!


Beth said...

Moving out here 14 hrs from our born-and-raised city has meant that we really are forming traditions for the first time. It's been so fun!

Kay said...

One of my all time favorite movies!
I didn't grow up with a lot of traditions, so we have been able to come up with our own.
We are talking about re-vamping them, too.