Since our move last week, I’ve been thinking about “The way we’ve always done things” and how this will change in the coming year. As we celebrate Easter in our apartment this year, our tradition of sharing this holiday meal with dear friends is going to become a treasured memory. We had a “traditional menu” of spiral ham, scalloped potatoes, Mimi’s peas (a twist on green bean casserole), some sort of fresh vegetable, homemade rolls, and a special dessert made by my best friend, who happens to be an incredible chef. Easter dinner will definitely not be the same this year and, while I will miss the comfort of those dear and special people, I have to take heart in knowing that this is part of our new/next path.
Change isn’t easy… it’s a shedding of the familiar and learning to embrace the different. It’s mourning those things you will miss while learning to enjoy those things you hadn’t yet contemplated. While I recognize the benefits that can come about by giving way to new traditions, it’s still a bumpy road to travel. GIving a simple wink-and-a-nod to all that has come before isn’t enough… but going into a full-on-mourning is too much. Where do we find that happy medium when it comes to change?
Our family has relied a great deal on tradition. Creating new ones and resurrecting others has been a coping mechanism, especially when my boys were younger. Some, I pray, will always remain important… primarily our Thanksgiving and Christmas menus… while others will either meld to fit our currently family dynamic or fall by the wayside entirely. I loved hearing E ask if I was making sloppy joes and homemade rolls for Trick-or-Treating night, “because that’s what you always make for Trick-or-Treating”. Is “The way we’ve always done things” enough of a reason to keep a certain tradition alive or is there a deeper, cultural reason for maintaining the status quo?
During this time of transition, I’m doing a great deal of questioning the importance of individual family traditions. I’m learning about my own expectations and those of my family… and finding where they intersect and where they veer off in totally different directions. It’s both difficult and refreshing. Is it important to make that same Easter holiday meal for just the two of us or is there something specific that’s important enough to salvage and recreate? Maybe we don’t need a spiral cut ham dinner to make our holiday complete… maybe I really *do* want some sort of special thing that reminds me of the Easters from my childhood. I’ve chosen to get a simple pink hard-boiled egg from the grocery store and make something out of that as my Easter touchstone for this year. Nothing else will be the same (ok… we *do* have jelly beans in the house and M just brought me a few special Creme Eggs) but that’s going to be where our tradition will end today.
We’re making way for new traditions to become our anchor… stripping down all the old ways of celebrating of holidays and coming up with new things that are more us, more true, and more real. Simply doing things because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” isn’t as good an answer as it has been in the past. It’s not going to be easy, but I believe that the end result will be a more true reflection on us and on our faith. Traditions, I believe, aren’t meant to be chains that weigh us back to the past… they’re meant to be links that keep us connected to one another, generation to generation, in whatever way seems best to each family.
My hope is that our traditions become ones that my sons will carry into their adult lives… not as stagnant blueprints, but as ways to create traditions of their own, linking the future with the past.
Isn’t that what we all want from traditions?
Wishing you each a most blessed Easter… and in the traditional Episcopalian way, let me greet you with “The Lord is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!”