"Who day and night must scramble for a living, feed a wife and children..." remember the song, Tradition from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof ? The whole play is based on traditions and how they keep the citizens of the little town of Anatevka functioning, as they always have, in their respective roles. Tevye the plays main character, sums up the dilemma he faces, as his daughters break with tradition, choosing their own husbands, a responsibility traditionally borne by the father, with this line, "Without our traditions we would be as shaky as a fiddler on a roof".
We've entered a season of tradition, our decorations, schedules, food, attitudes, and beliefs all influenced by the traditions of parents, grandparents, friends, religions, and advertisers. In all this traditional stability and pleasant familiarity it's easy to switch on the auto-pilot, cruise along at altitude not fully engaged in any activity accepting the fun and peace of traditions with out fully savoring each. Perhaps, we're even aware that traditions can cut both ways and some may have us locked in a destructive cycle rendered unchangeable by complacency, "Ah well it's always been this way and there's not much I can do about it."
It's all too easy to let the experiences of our day to day life slip past year after year as do many of our Christmas traditions. We live at a distance, each event to expected and accepted to enliven our senses, pluck our heartstrings and impact us the way our life moments and this season of Christ should, or perhaps, could is the better word.
Let's shake it up a little this year, if not for our sake, for the sake of our little ones who's characters and lives are molded and shaped by the lessons we provide. Let us fully live each tradition, deeply, passionately, experience each of our old familiar traditions. It might hurt a little, as we find the courage to let go of a few whose pain was unrealized; but, we may also find an untapped well of life defining joy in really tasting, touching, smelling and living with our whole being. Perhaps we will discover, as Tevye did, which traditions mire us in the thick, cold, mud of an unexamined life and which traditions keep us rooted in the fertile soil of growth, family and God.