November and December often bring nostalgia and the deep desire for tradition.
Who hasn’t said, or heard, “We always..,” “Every year we..,” “I miss how we used to do…”?
Merriam-Webster defines tradition this way:
“the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction”
I love this. Our traditions actually explain who we are and from where we’ve come. There are reasons we do what we do…and often we observe traditions without even realizing we do them.
Recently, I met with some young moms in my living room. Our coffee discussion was how we observe traditions in our growing families. Are we making news ones? If so, what does that look like? The more I wrapped my mind around those questions I, personally, came to the conclusion that traditions aren’t created, they stem from our heritage DNA. They are expressed from something meaningful, or habitual, or cultural.
Taking time to reflect on our own traditions, we begin to see how influenced we are by those non-verbal ways-of-doing-things. That doesn’t mean we don’t add our own spin on a tradition, but our traditions do stem from those unspoken “we always do it this way…” moments.
A significant memory from my Thanksgiving childhood was joining in a circle with relatives, holding hands and singing the blessing for our dinner…in harmony. Where did that start? I don’t know…we just always did it. But, it leaves a mark that my family was rooted in music and faith. That particular tradition has faded over the years but the memory is still vivid and has left its mark for future generations.
Other unspoken traditions are the foods we eat. Food is center to most traditions. “We always have turkey, sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows, hot cider, and pumpkin pie.” Others might add mac & cheese, or jello, or…because that’s what Aunt-so-and-so always brought.
Most importantly is the reason we celebrate as we do.
“…beliefs, and customs…”
Here’s how the Bible describes tradition (from Deuteronomy 6):
What is to be passed from generation to generation?
Love and Worship God in every aspect of our lives.
Webster got it right – the Bible tells us we are called to be a people of memory.
What have you enjoyed through your family’s DNA of tradition?