Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Traditions are Important

When I was a teacher I always enjoyed assigning work that revolved around the holiday at hand. I was still making my students think and use necessary skills, yet I felt the assignments were fun and went in hand with what was on their minds anyway. Besides, when I graded the assignments it put me in the mood for the holidays as well.

The assignments were called “Traditions” papers. I had my students write about their family traditions for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then whatever gift-giving holiday they celebrated in December.

Some of my students balked at the idea of figuring out what their traditions were. Others were convinced that their family had no traditions. Still, the majority of the students embraced the topics (3 assignments in all, one for each month October-December) and I got to read about them.

What the children began to learn was that routine is the root of tradition. They learned that what was “normal” or even “boring” to them was sometimes different than their peers and other times the same.

Certainly Trick-or-Treating, eating turkey, and opening gifts were on most papers, but the other traditions were vastly different.

Some watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while others were always traveling on Thanksgiving morning for their meal. Some had artificial trees and others had only experienced live trees.

From menus to d├ęcor, activities to church/temple visits, the children began to understand that their normal was not everyone’s.

My point for doing the assignment was to make the students aware of the importance of traditions in one’s life.

All too often couples come together and think their family of origin’s traditions aren’t important in their new life. But they certainly are and can become deal breakers or at the very least sources of contention for couples.

How we observe the special times in our lives – holidays especially – are part of what makes us who we are.

It doesn’t mean we cannot adapt, assimilate, and change, but rather we must have the option to maintain some semblance of the way we were raised.

The little things, minute details, and fringe add up to so much more than the sum of their parts.

It takes compromise, union, and patience to merge traditions and create new ones unique to the blended family.

So as you observe Halloween today, be acutely aware of how much you do that is tradition. And, moving forward, do the same for Thanksgiving and the holiday you celebrate in December.

Traditions bind us together, connect us to our past, and spring forth into our future. Traditions are powerful forces in our lives.

By identifying our traditions we can recall what we took from home and what we created to make a home.

And for me traditions are a resonating and recurring Simple Joy.

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