Rebecca's Ponderings

December 14, 2009

Tevye’s Dilemmas

Filed under: Parenting — Rebecca @ 8:45 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Lately I have been pondering traditions. I suppose this season is ripe for such considerations, though few of us take the time. It is tradition that requires us to buy gifts for relatives we barely know, entertain co-workers we do not like, attend performances that are poor at best, and completely redecorate our homes all while wearing a cheerful smile and projecting a peaceful attitude. Who has the time or energy to ponder the hows and whys of our holiday rituals? Yet, if we do not take the time to prayerfully consider these things, we will find ourselves becoming frazzled and frustrated rather than peaceful and pleasant. So again, I find myself searching for balance between two extremes on this pendulum of life.

On the one hand, traditions are comforting and even essential. Like routines, they can make planning and scheduling easier. Traditions connect us to the past and to loved ones who have passed away. They often reveal what our values are and can aide us in difficult decisions. They help to define us as a culture, a nation, and a family and to give us a sense of belonging.

As I write this, I remember the spicy scent of barbecue meatballs and French onion bread my grandma always made. I picture the dancing glow and hear the pleasant harmonies of a candlelight service. I can feel the softness of new Christmas pajamas and I recall my daddy’s voice as he read the second chapter of Luke on Christmas Eve.

On the other hand, traditions can be a hindrance. Often, they lose their significance and become just one more chore that must be dealt with. As families grow and change, so must their traditions; this causes friction and emotional turmoil. While a certain song or scent may bring a flood of positive memories to one person, they may have absolutely no meaning to another. Even worse, they may bring pain to those who have suffered hardship or loss.

I have witnessed countless relationships being sacrificed on the altar of tradition. The scars from these wounds are deep and do not heal quickly, if at all. I recall the emptiness at our dinner table after my cousin was killed at age seventeen. I still feel the inner turmoil of wanting to travel to be with family while, at the same time, desiring to be at home, creating new traditions with our own children.

Time and sanity will not allow us to continue adding traditions without ceasing some as well. My husband and I have been married nearly sixteen years. We have had children for nine. Yet, we are still blending, creating, and defining our family’s traditions. I sometimes wonder whether we might lose some of our history by dropping certain rituals, and we probably are. However, our primary focus is always on Christ and his message of loving God and loving people. When I weigh everything against that, Christ is the only tradition that truly matters.

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