Sunday, December 07, 2014

Traditions Held Dear

Did you know that the word "tradition" comes from the Latin "tradere"; to transmit, or give for safekeeping? Thank you Wikepedia for that information! 

This, of all times of the year is bound up in tradition. Who can't look back on their childhood and remember, not just that there were Christmases, but the particular way in which it was done; the little rituals that you could count on?

When our children were growing up, they knew that they would have one gift on their bed, along with a Christmas stocking when they woke up on Christmas morning. I think we hoped (vainly) that this would buy us a few more minutes in bed! 

As new families form they make their own traditions based on thier values. One young mom with two preschoolers has begun a tradition of sharing their family Christmas with friends who would otherwise be alone. How true to the spirit of Christmas to shift the focus from giving things, to giving the gift of welcome. 

And sometimes we hold onto traditions that don't seem to make sense because they matter to someone. A coworker told me that his teen aged children insist that their Christmas tree be cut from the lot up north where they have cut them for years. He ruefully shook his head with a smile, knowing that he would have to make the trip this weekend even though it would be much easier to put up an artificial tree or cheaper to buy a real one locally.

But it isn't that rituals and traditions can't be adapted or changed. This year two other friends and I have renegotiated our Christmas traditions to better suit our circumstances. The fact that there were "negotiations," speaks to their importance to us.

Today we celebrated St. Nicholas' Day with our six grandchildren. They call it, "Dutch Christmas"; a way of including part of our heritage in our celebrations. I made sugar cookie dough and the children rolled it out and cut out cookies with the same cookie cutters their parents used when they were children. Each year they decorate them with greater skill; more sugar lands on the cookies and less on the floor! 

It all had to be fit in today between hockey games and a Christmas play rehearsal, a window of a few hours in the afternoon of a busy day. Sue, our daughter-in-law, collapsed into a chair when she arrived. "The children have been looking forward to this for weeks," she said, "But I just kept telling myself, "If I can just get through Saturday!"

"Well, it's almost over!" I said.

That was when a little voice from the next room said, "But I don't want it to be over." 

And if I needed to know, I knew then it was worth it; the making of dough at midnight after a week of caroling and parties; to have "kept safe" for another year, something precious to the heart of a child.


Dave Hingsburger said...

Oh, I don't want it to be over yet either!! Traditions make me feel safe and give me a sense of stability. In a world that changes so quickly, it's nice to let tradition take the wheel for a little while every year.

Belinda Burston said...

You are a great upholder of tradition my friend, and you carry the spirit of Christmas in your heart with your joyous shopping expeditions in your trusty chariot, for "just the right gift." :)

Anonymous said...

Traditions are so important in a family. These are the branches the ornaments of memories are hung on! When I reflect on Christmas it is the "every year we..." that enters conversation. I believe we should continue our traditions with our children/grandchildren/nieces and nephews until they no longer want to do them. They often are a lot of work - but have huge "pay-offs". Enjoy.

Belinda Burston said...

Dear Anon, I loved what you wrote: "These are the branches the ornaments of memories are hung on!" :)

Yes, I will do as you say--uphold until I'm the lone upholder! Lol!