I know, I know, I just posted a blog about traditions a couple of days ago. But ’tis the season, and I still have tradition on the brain. So here goes part two!
If you’ve ever seen the musical Fiddler on the Roof (or probably even if you haven’t), you’re familiar with the song “Tradition”. In it, Tevye explains how important traditions are to the way of life in his community. “Because of our traditions,” he says solemnly, “everyone in our little village knows who he is and what God expects him to do.” He turns to the audience and asks, “And how did these traditions come to be? I’ll tell you…I don’t know. But it’s a tradition!!”
Traditions give us all a sense of continuity, a connection with our families, with our heritage. There’s something reassuring about doing something the same way it was done by your parents, your grandparents, THEIR grandparents. Some traditions are passed down along with their own story, some kind of explanation of how they came to be, what their importance is, how they became significant to someone somewhere down the line, ages ago.
But the origins of some traditions, like Tevye’s, have become shrouded with mystery over the years. We do them for no other reason than because they ARE tradition. And there’s something wonderful and special about that as well.
Some traditions are beautiful and serious: a good friend of mine make a pilgrimage to the cemetery every year to lay flowers on the grave of several relatives. Some are kind of funny: a family I know finishes decorating their Christmas tree every year by having someone stand on the far side of the room and throw an ugly ornament onto the tree – wherever it sticks, it stays. Most people I know have at least one “family recipe” that someone in the family always brings to a particular holiday gathering, whether it’s Aunt Ethel’s fruitcake or Grandma’s rum balls or Great-Uncle Heironymous’s barbequed pork.
Some traditions have been passed down for decades or even centuries. My family always opened one gift on Christmas Eve, and I think that may be a tradition our ancestors brought to the New World on the Mayflower. And some have been newly created within the past few years. My husband and I go to New York City every year for my birthday, a new tradition that began with our courtship only three years ago.
But whether age-old or fairly new, whether solemn or goofy, traditions create a wonderful family bond. So as the holidays approach, tell your sweetie about your family traditions, and ask him about his. As you begin your new life together, you can choose which traditions you want to continue with your new family. And maybe even create a few of your own!