Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Yes…I know it’s not Tuesday.   Unfortunately, it got too late in the day for blogging yesterday.
So…today I’m back on track and would like to talk about TRADITION.
Tradition is meant to help us identify what is sacred in life.
-Joan Chittister
Over this past weekend TRADITION was observed.  For our family on Friday night Kim, Gabe & I traveled to be with my parents.  My Mom’s TRADITION is to prepare Christmas Eve dinner for everyone.  On Saturday night, Christmas Day, we trekked our way to my in-laws for their TRADITION of Secret Santa and the always fun White Elephant Gift Exchange (AKA: Chinese Gift Exchange; FYI- The China reference is unclear.  One suggestion points to the Chinese concept of destiny).

So exactly what is TRADITION?  Here’s Webster’s definition:
1 a : an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom) b : a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable. 2: the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction. 3: cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions. 4: characteristic manner, method, or style <in the best liberal tradition>.

Interestingly, at both the Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day evening gathering we built on the celebration of family and friends coming together in fellowship and fun.   We made TRADITION.

The TRADITION of Christmas is much talked about.  Seemingly, it starts earlier and earlier each passing year, but typically (I almost typed: traditionally) you start hearing Andy Williams, Burl Ives and seeing all the trimmings as soon as the jack-o-lantern and goblins begin to fade in late October.  The onslaught of consumerism piles on where Halloween and Thanksgiving have left off.   Countless advertising around the TRADITION (used it that time!) of the retail industry’s ‘black Friday’ and  economist predictions fill the airwaves as well as this whole attack or war on Christmas phenomenon; Scrooges on both the left and right basking in their own humbug political posturing.   What happened to the supposedly, ‘most wonderful time of the year’?  Is there anything to be ‘holly and jolly’ about?
YES there is.   TRADITION.   What’s important is the time spent together away from all the noise and humbug.   So this year TRADITION begins anew for both sides of our family.

After dinner on Christmas Eve, as we all gathered in front of our tree I asked my 12 year old nephew to read aloud the Christmas story found in Luke from our family heirloom bible.  It gave him an appreciation of history, family and TRADITION.  I felt a sense of pride coming from him as he read, stumbling over a word or two here and there, but excitement that he’d been asked to perform this task and to begin this TRADITION. 

 The next night was even more interesting as my father in law gathered us all before the gift exchange fun for what he called quiet time.  He explained that he wanted to do something different this year.  Then after a few words he produced a loaf of bread and cup to which he called on me to give the words of institution; to tell the story of holy communion.  There on the porch the family shared communion together.  We all came forward one by one, all at different places in our faith journey, but together united in celebration of birth and resurrection in a meal of historic and spiritual TRADITION.

Do you and your family have a TRADITION?  

Peace be with you and Happy New Year!

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