What is a tradition anyway? I've been trying to come up with a post at way to late an hour and I'm overly tired tonight... so, I'm trippin' out on the word tradition. I knew this word was coming as Mo planned them way in advance this month. I was one that even voted for this word that Mo was less than thrilled with. I excitedly saw myself writing about traditions of my childhood around the holidays.
Maybe it's because Christmas bowled me over like a large ocean wave in the speed and force that it came and went, or maybe it's because of Britta's post on tradition and what it brought to mind, but I can't do it. I should want to tell you about my joy in our tradition of caroling, but let's face it... caroling doesn't happen every year and I've experienced disappointment in some. I should want to tell about how we pull out the Nativity one piece at a time and tell the story each figure played in Christ's birth. But that is continually evolving with my adulthood as well.
The things I thought were traditions in my life that had a tendency to, as Britta said so well, "be thought, created, re-thought, analyzed, announced, planned, prepared for, executed and immortalized for all eternity" are morphing as I grow up. It's ok for me to shed some of these thoughts on how an event "should be". I can still do the things I love, but things change and so can I. I can let go.
So, where does that leave us? What is a tradition? I looked it up and one definition at dictionary.com says this:
5. a customary or characteristic method or manner:
In my world, it is customary for me to say 'Thank You' when you do something nice for me or say a kind word to me. A characteristic manner of a kind heart is to open the door for someone who is struggling to do so themselves. A manner that is customary is to give someone a friendly smile as you walk past them, or even say 'hello'. A friendly wave when someone let's you into traffic...
Courtesy. Joy. Love. Friendliness. Some people have forgotten these traditions, and you can see it in the way they hold their shoulders and avert their eyes.
I ate at a restaurant today with my family and my in-laws. I was cold. I had pulled my coat over my shoulders and had my scarf around my neck. An older man walked past me and said with a crinkly smile on his face and a friendly chuckle in his voice, "Are you feeling a little chilly? You're all bundled up!"
"Yep! I'm freezing!" I responded, and we both smiled. He lightly touched my shoulder as he walked away.
Meaningless in the long run of either of our lives, so it would seem. But that small act of acknowledgment from that friendly old man makes me smile ten hours later. We connected. Brother and sister, in the family of humanity, connected for a moment of smiles and awareness of each other's existence. Who knows the consequence of a single such action? But a lifetime of them? It's easy to imagine... delight in hearts, health to bodies, and unity of spirits. In short, a more beautiful world.
People need each other. We need the love and joy that comes from, not only family ties, but from strangers saying 'Hello', or 'Are you feeling a little chilly?' We each have a gift to give, and we each have heart enough to do so in small and simple ways.
And that is a tradition I hold on to.