Red and gold ornaments on tree

The Conundrum of Traditions

This post is from my Perspectives weekly column in the 12/21/19 edition of The Empowered Traveler™ newsletter. If you’re not a subscriber yet, you can sign up here:

Christmas traditions showing red and gold ornaments on tree

Perspectives: The Conundrum of Traditions

When I stand in church on Christmas Eve, listening to Silent Night drift through the glow of candlelight that surrounds me, my eyes fill with tears that are memories of my dad. Our family cherished the tradition of being together in our little country church on Christmas Eve, and savored the gathering of family that always followed.

​That first Thanksgiving of baking pies without Mom was difficult, to say the least. She was famous for her crusts and taught me her technique, so we always looked forward to sharing this tradition. That was especially true in her final years, when we knew we had limited time remaining to do so.

​I’m blessed to have grown up in a family ripe with holiday traditions—some of which I still enjoy today. But I’ve needed to let go of some along the way, and I bet you have, too.

​As we get older, we’ll continue to experience a great deal of change. Loved ones may die. Friends may move away. Relationships may change. Circumstances may be completely different from one year to the next.

​Maintaining familiar traditions can be a wonderful thing when they continue to be a source of joy. But sometimes, they’re painful reminders of the changes that have occurred.

​The conundrum of traditions is that we don’t always recognize which is which. Which are still good for us—and of which we should let go.

​We may cling to a certain way of celebrating just because it’s familiar, even though it creates sadness, too. Or we may refuse to embrace something new because we’re afraid that doing so will somehow diminish the riches of the past.

​The good news is we have the power to choose what’s best. To define what works for us in any given season within the context of all the traditions we cherish.

​We don’t have to cling to our traditions in order to honor the loved ones with whom they were shared. We just have to embrace the current season with the traditions that serve us well now.

​And who knows? The future may provide the opportunity to renew a cherished tradition and savor it once again.

Sue Montgomery is a Christian writer/content creator who's also been a hospice nurse, family caregiver, health coach, and professional organizer. Now she's helping Baby Boomers like herself embrace the Boomer Continuum™ of agile caregiving, graceful aging, and peaceful dying—with Christian faith and simplicity to focus on what matters most.
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