I tend to think of a tradition as something that people do periodically, at regular intervals. More specifically, annually. Perhaps that’s because many traditions are linked to things we do around the holidays which, generally, happen annually. But when I looked up the definition this morning, I found it to be a more sentimental, more forgiving definition than I expected.
- the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.
It also has a much deeper meaning than I had planned to cover today. What I was really contemplating were those customs, the “things that we do” that our parents or grandparents did that we enjoy and carry on. You know, the commonly widespread ones… eating turkey on Thanksgiving, telling Santa what you want for Christmas, and making a New Year’s resolution. I was also thinking of family ones, or ones that I think of as family ones… arranging the nativity figurines in the crèche, decorating Mrs. Batzer’s sugar cookies, and hanging our stocking in front of a corrugated cardboard fireplace.
Like many kids, my son remembers putting out cookies and orange juice for Santa. He remembers my husband reading Twas the Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve before bedtime, and receiving Disney pajamas each year from Santa. The year he got Buzz Lightyear pajamas, he wore them for three days straight until I peeled them off of him and threw them in the washing machine.
I love the Christmas ornaments and decorations, especially those that were my mother’s. I try to put them out every year. One favorite is a glass Christmas tree with a plastic covered opening on the bottom. She used to fill it with green spearmint leaves. I do this every year also as a cherished “tradition.”
Shortly after Thanksgiving this year, I was at the grocery store with my other half (MOH). I stopped in the candy aisle and told MOH to help me look for the spearmint leaves that I buy EVERY year. “What are spearmint leaves?” he asked me. Really? From there, our conversation went something like this.
Me: “Green spearmint leaves. I put them in the glass Christmas tree every year.”
MOH: (shakes his head)
Me: “They’re sort of like oranges slices.” (I point at the orange slices.) “They’re gumdrop-type candy, but they’re green, shaped like leaves and spearmint flavored.”
MOH: “These?” (He points at a box of Ande’s chocolate thin mint candies wrapped in green foil.)
LOL. So much for annual Christmas traditions that I think everybody in my family understands and enjoys.
And so I will reflect on the deeper meaning of tradition, enjoying the customs, but focusing on the beliefs passed on to me by my family. Loving God with all my heart, soul and mind. Being kind to everyone – always. Helping others. Believing in the goodness of humanity. Forgiving. Smiling. Letting peace on earth begin with me.
I keep on trying, and hopefully in doing so, I’m passing it on as well. Peace to you, and Merry Christmas.