Tradition – when does it become the way things are done?

At this time of year I find myself wrapped up in tradition and wondering why we feel that some things are changeable and some are not. Is it ok to create your own traditions and let go of some others?

What tradition means to me

I find a level of comfort in some traditions. Christmas day at the parents. Easter Ham dinner. Mother’s day brunch. It all seems to be about eating and being with family. The traditions are something to hang the memories on and each event gets richer because of the past.

I also find tradition to be confining. Having the same actions over and over leaves me with a lack of variety and a feeling I should be rebelling.

Keeping it fresh, new traditions

Among my friends we call things tradition even if we’ve only done something once. If we want to do it again, someone yells, Tradition!

We also have a habit of labeling repetitive errors as tradition – it takes away the error. If we have to make that wrong turn after leaving Henderson, Nevada every year, then so be it, tradition demands repetition!

We still gather at Mom’s place for Christmas and the tradition is turkey. Everything else is up for grabs. So we’ve had different veg, we’ve had lunch planned or denied over the years. Despite my brother-in-law’s concerted effort, we have never gone to Hawaii for Christmas.

How to let go of a tradition

I let go pretty easily of the details. I think it’s because our family is small and getting smaller over the years. It’s often a choice between changing something and stopping it all together. Our holiday dinners need new blood so we invite people and call them adopted siblings.

We bring them into the holiday dinner planning and it gets crazy. Knowing that someone we didn’t grow up with is planning Thanksgiving is kind of exciting. Will they have a turkey?

This year our Canadian Thanksgiving got co-opted for a fabulous catered meal. We decided to have our Turkey Thanksgiving on the American date. It was a lot of fun, and we had an open sky of options because we’d never celebrated it so late. I did manage to find  a turkey, but heads-up if you want to try it, the stores don’t all stock the birds at that time.

What traditions do you want to change?

Is there something you want to start doing for your tradition? I say, declare it and just go ahead. Despite the meaning of the song Tevye sings, I believe tradition should be a comfort and support not a narrow definition of what is right or wrong.