Nontraditional TradtionsWe live in an age in which it is hard to spend time together as a family. Many families today wonder if having quality time together is a thing of thepast. We are inordinately busy, for one thing, whether household bread-winnersor college students. Also, the definition of family has changed.
We aredealing with new definitions and characterizations of the idea of family. Someof us have traditional families. Some families have divorced, single, and/orremarried parents, creating a rather confusing family tree. Some people chooseto live their lives alone, but may still be close enough to some friends toconsider them family. Whatever the circumstances, many of us honestly don’t know how tocelebrate together. We may even see the word “tradition” as somethingstultifying and old, having no meaning for or application to us personally;something usually being forced upon us by someone who smells funny and is onlyseen on holidays.Order now
What all of this means is that we can no longer simply followthe examples of old. It is up to us to create new family traditions. Celebrating is not hard. We all know about celebrating and have some ways ofdoing it. The only challenge is to find new ways. Why do we need to celebratetradition? It gives us something to look forward to and makes a formalstatement that there are some things in life to be grateful for.
The notion of honoring tradition is unsettling for some people; letalone creating new ones. We understand that we need something to add a sense oforder and stability to our lives. But we are not sure about how to create ourown traditions. We seem to think that traditions must be heavy and complexideas that had been around for hundreds of years and will be around for ahundred more. In my opinion, this is not true.
It need not be big or religiousat all. I believe a tradition is something that you do once that feels good, soyou do it again and again. The tale in Frost’s “Mending Wall” can be viewed as an impromptutradition. The two neighbors needing to repair the wall after the winter chill,find time to converse with each other about what’s on their minds. For example, every Sunday my dad makes tea and puts out two cups, hisand mine.
I am used to this. If I had to reach in the cupboard to get my owncup, something would be wrong. As it is, I get up out of my bed, I go intothe kitchen, I see my cup sitting there, and I know I am ready to start themorning and I feel a little happy. Similarly, I sleep everynight with a greatlyworn pillow that really should be thrown away, but for which I have a fondnessfor. I have a bad case of “pillow-head” every morning to prove it.
When I laymy head on it at night ready for sleep, I am comforted. Every day, my mom makesdinner while I do my homework listening to the familiar bangs and clangsassociated with making a meal. On Sunday, our family goes out to a Chineserestaurant for dinner. These small things are some of our traditions.
They areall qualities that identify my family and make us special. If we did not havethese particular traditions, we would have others. That is because traditionsinsist upon themselves. Look around your own life and you will realize thatthey are everywhere. We clearly need them to provide a sense of order in ourlives. I know a chef who works long hours and is never home for dinner excepton Monday.
Then, he leaves the restaurant earlier than usual, and hurries hometo spend time with his family. His family knows that they can depend on this,and they celebrate with a special dinner at home every Monday night. My friends Brian and Andy have a house that has both a living room and afamily room. I have never seen them in their living room. Once I admired itsbeautiful decoration and said, “But you never use it, do you?” “Oh, yes!” theysaid. “Every Sunday, we read the paper in here.
“My neighbor decorates the windows on her house for the season. Valentines, snowflakes, pumpkins, and fireworks are drawn by her children andtaped into place. I get reminded of upcoming holidays that way. My friend Vinh gives his son Jackie “horsy rides.
” Everynight at seven-thirty, Jackie saddles up on the mighty steed and is buckled off landing on thesoft carpeting. It is hard to tell who gets more out of this. All of these moments are traditions, inventions of people who mean toput more meaning into their lives and those they love. Tradition is in all ourlives in one way or another. Without participation in such activities therewould be no family bond or pride.
Being involved in these activities bringspeople closer and makes us understand who we are. Everything we do and everyday of our lives we take part in a tradition in one form or another.