Dreamstime

Traditions...

November 14, 2016
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Every year, right after my birthday, the first sign that the holidays are coming arrives at the Crandall House. It’s a table top Christmas tree that was a gift from our friend Sue a while back and it sits in our bedroom in front of the window. Each night as we ready for bed it lights our way and there is a peace in its gentle glow. I think it’s cool I’ve reached the age of 60 and things like this still excite me in a child-like way. Round about Halloween I start sneaking back to the bedroom a little early each night to see if Di has put the tree out yet, because she’s the boss!! It’s not yet a family tradition, by definition a tradition is the transmission of customs and beliefs from generation to generation and our kids don’t do this. It’s more a habit, defined as a settled or regular tendency, especially one that is hard to give up. I will be happy when we elevate our bedroom tree from being equivalent to smoking to a higher level of respect, a tradition. As time goes on and generations find joy in other things I worry the tree will be in an estate sale one year and not on the nightstand. And that’s had me thinking a lot this weekend.

I worry that traditions have less meaning to young people today than they do to me and the generations before me. Vying for the wishbone at Thanksgiving and carolers at Christmas come to mind as little things that meant a great deal when I was a kid but you hardly see anymore. Every year on Thanksgiving Diane places a tablecloth on a side table in our dining room. She calls it the Blessing Cloth and everyone who is gathered at our house for Thanksgiving Dinner writes what they are grateful for on it. Now, after many years, we have a record of the things we’ve been through and the cloth tells what we’ve faced and overcome, together as friends and family. When Di and I are long gone I hope the Blessing Cloth gets to keep recording our history.

The traditions I worry about losing aren’t the big ones, like it’s a tradition to go camping on the 4th of July each year, or, we always go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve. I’m talking about the little things that make each of us unique. The moments that fill our hearts and bring us closer together. We have become such a disposable society that I worry these things will get thrown away like last year’s cell phone. These days nothing is built to last longer than its limited warranty and it’s easier to get a divorce than it is to try and stay together. I want my grandkids to teach their grandkids about the traditions of receiving Christmas pajamas on Thanksgiving morning and decorating eggs the Saturday before Easter. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I can’t think of a single tradition we have that involves a cellphone, video game or tweeting, and that’s a WONDERFUL thing. Traditions are about sharing moments, storytelling and leaving a part of ourselves in someone else’s care. Sharing traditions requires us to be with one another and the world is not quite as scary when we’re thisclosetogether.

As the holidays come running in the door now I hope you’ll take the time to tell your loved ones about the special recipes, treasured ornaments and little things that make your family one-of-a-kind. Share stories…all kinds of stories…so they’ll better understand the things that make their story beautiful. And then at Thanksgiving Dinner, give them one end of the wishbone while you hold the other and make a wish that you live long enough to see the tradition’s pass safely to their families. With those traditions a little bit of you lives on too! And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be visiting the kids during the holidays and you’ll notice a gentle glow of light coming from a bedroom down the hall. And you’ll feel like a kid again, just like you’re supposed to feel when carrying out traditions.