As Thanksgiving approaches I have been thinking about traditions and how each family is sometimes so alike and sometimes so very different. I decided to google the word tradition and see what the results were.
1) “The definition of a tradition is a custom or belief that is passed down through the generations or that is done time after time or year after year.”
An example of a tradition is eating turkey on Thanksgiving or putting up a tree on Christmas.
2) “The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication.”
3) “A part of culture that is passed from person to person or generation to generation, possibly differing in detail from family to family, such as the way to celebrate holidays.”
4) “A long-established custom or practice having the effect of precedent or unwritten law.”
I find it interesting that each idea has several things in common: it includes the passing of time
and it is something that happens again and again. Cultures may be different, beliefs may be different and families certainly are different, but we are alike in this way– traditions are important to us.
Why do we have traditions? Why do we value them?
We follow them year after year because they mean something to us and deep down I think we hope that our children will continue to honor some of the same traditions. Thus, keeping those traditions alive.
Traditions give a sense of belonging. You have special things that your family does and children notice that. It provides them with a routine that they can depend on. I remember things I did with my parents even more than certain presents I received. It is important to me that my children know why I do what I do. Traditions bind us together.
Traditions tell the story of your family. In fact, in some way it gives your family an identity. It tells your children that they a part of something. It is a way to understand the past and –as things constantly change around us–it also gives us something that is strong and secure to hold on to for the future.
Traditions also teach. They teach children values as you celebrate what means something to you. As your family honors religious traditions, you teach faith. When you spend time with a nightly bedtime story you teach the value of reading and creativity.
Following traditions also gives the family something to look forward to together!
The Overshadowed Christmas play this year is “The Christmas Schooner.” It is a delightful story of a family that comes from a German heritage. (Did you know that the first Christmas trees came from Germany?) The story allows us to see the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree and continues to repeat, “Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree!” The mother of the family, Alma, is Swiss and just doesn’t understand this tradition or why her husband would risk his life to bring Christmas trees to Germans who live across Lake Michigan in Chicago. He answers her questions with, “I do, because I have so much.” Thus honoring the tradition of giving and blessing others at this time of year.
It makes me wonder, how far would you go to keep a tradition alive? What would you risk? Should we hold that close to them that we would even do something dangerous? This family did. And believe me, more people than just Germans learned to love the tradition of Christmas trees that once was held only by Germans.
By the way, some people have a tradition of seeing a Christmas show every year. This one would be an amazing one to see. We open this Friday and run until December 18th. Get tickets at www.overshadowed.org
What traditions does your family celebrate? I’d love to hear about them! Please comment, share and follow!