“Traditions are sequences of events that typically occur
infrequently over a relatively brief period.”
– P.J. Hughes
Fine, the definition above is not quite how Webster’s sees
things. In fact, you will more commonly
think of rock-solid descriptors like “long-standing” and assurances such as
“unwritten law” when you draw up the definition as taught and in your mind. Don’t fret, I do this sometimes too. That base definition is comforting - summer vacations,
apple picking with your parents, Thanksgiving dinners at Mom’s house, so on and
so forth – always there to count on.
While you could easily and successfully debate that events
like Thanksgiving have a very long history of tradition – nearly 400 years in
this great country – one could state that the world has been around for 4.5
billion years, so this as compared, is sliver of time - at best. (Don’t disconnect just yet, we aren’t taking
that far of a philosophical leap into the ridiculous here, I promise.)
Let me re-center - to clarify, my perspective is not
anarchist in nature or a rebellious one – I am too old for that nonsense. In contrast, it’s my 40-something, sometimes-wiser
outlook at life that just doesn’t give in anymore to what we fleetingly and
blindly take for granted as “another holiday”.
These traditions, as is today, will probably not always be here going
forward. In fact, I know they
won’t. I want to live in the moment and
remain engaged during all Thanksgivings from here on out – enjoying the
table-settings, the aroma of gravy, the laughter of kids who will not laugh so
freely in 5 more years and the mere presence of my parents – along with their quiet
pride, quirkiness, etc.
That’s right, I said it – people grow up and they pass on.
We can’t stop either. What that means,
is that our Thanksgivings are each unique.
The Thanksgivings where the kids are young and want to watch the parade
in the morning? Maybe 10 of them. Those where you are back at your childhood
home and get the chance to share an adult toast with your parents, wife, brothers
and sisters all in attendance? Only had a couple of them. Remember “infrequently”?
I think you get where I am going here. Traditions are great. I am a huge fan. My stance isn’t a knock on them - anyone that
knows me, knows I am a traditional guy by nature. I just find myself going one layer deeper
here. My perspective is that real tradition
should never be approached as simply functional and naïve to the to my first point
that they are only enjoyed in their uniqueness over a “relatively brief period”. The people, the homes we experience them in,
the kitchen food prep jostling, the debates in the living room after desert but
before the Jameson sets in, etc. The combination of said events – and the ones
that await us this week – those sequences of events will bring life and uniqueness
to your traditions as well. Punchline? Enjoy
your time at Mom’s house this year – and embrace the nuances if you can. They may be a memory that you simply can’t recreate
for next year’s “tradition.”