Photo by Alvimann on Morgue File.
Traditions: we’ve all got ‘em. They might be family dinners on special occasions, or having a particular kind of cake on your birthday (Jeanne Cake, natch), or popcorn at the movies, or meeting your friend for a 5k run in the park, rain or shine, every Sunday morning. What are your favorite traditions, large and small? What is it about your traditions that keep them going strong for you?
My family has a few traditions I could mention here. Many of our traditions, as I think about it, are seasonal. Some revolve around the holidays, as doubtless many people’s do. Some traditions, because of the passing of time and the passing of loved ones, we are no longer able to do. But, even still, we have the memories of those once practiced traditions to live inside of us for the rest of our lives.
One tradition I can mention comes around in the summer months. My family enjoys creamed corn; but, not just any creamed corn. You see, there is something called sweet corn and then there is something called field corn. We prefer the field corn variety. Field corn comes in yellow or white. There is a slight difference in texture and the size of the kernels. The white field corn has smaller kernels than its yellow counterpart.
Anyway, what my mother does is she takes the field corn and cooks it (cream style). Then, she makes homemade buttermilk, southern biscuits. We use the creamed field corn basically as gravy and smother the biscuits with it. It is delicious! We usually have some tomatoes and hot peppers to go with the meal. But, basically that’s the extent of it . . . creamed field corn smothering homemade buttermilk biscuits.
Sticking to food, another tradition we have is during Thanksgiving. My mother takes green onions and wraps them with thinly sliced ham smeared with cream cheese. She just rolls the cream-cheesed ham around the green onion and it’s ready to eat! If you have never tried it, I would strongly encourage you to do so!
One tradition I had as a kid was spending the night at my grandmother’s house (we called her Nanny) on Thanksgiving eve. I would stay the night, then the next morning I would get up and help her with preparing the food. Of course, I did more watching and taste testing than anything, but hey it was fun! I can still remember waking up on Thanksgiving morning with the smell of sage in the air as she was cooking her dressing (or cornbread stuffing if you prefer).
Some traditions stay with you your entire life. Some of them you understand and value their significance. Others, you have long since forgotten why you do it, you just do. Still others come and go. There are things we once did, but we no longer do them. Sometimes it is the result of time or loved ones passing away or interests that change.
I think traditions can be positive and negative. They can be positive by giving us a sense of sameness or stability; that there are constants in this crazy world. They can lend themselves to strengthening our bonds with our family and friends. They give us common ground to stand upon and love and support one another.
On the other hand, traditions can sometimes hinder us. Sometimes they become a ritual and only a ritual. It is almost that we feel obligated to do it, even though our hearts may not be in it. Or, it may be that we have transitioned in life and have different perspectives and priorities than we once did. They can shackle us to the same-ol’-same-ol’ way of doing things. The mantra to this philosophy is: But, we have never done it that way before!
Hopefully, the traditions we have are meaningful to us. In this sense, they give us joy and help us bond with those we love. They help to keep alive those fond and pleasant memories of the past.
The main thing, I think, with any tradition is to remember why you do it in the first place. This will help in not allowing it to become an albatross around your neck. It will make the tradition even more meaningful and heartfelt.
As a Christian, there are certain traditions we have. We attend church weekly. We read our bibles and pray daily. We celebrate Easter and Christmas and other special days. All these are good. But, if we forget the meaning of them, if we forget their purpose, then we are just going through the motions. We have lost our way.
Christ has called us to experience him on a daily basis. It is not to be an experience we have only at the point of our salvation; nor an experience only when we go to heaven. No, this experience of the Risen Lord is to be daily. The traditions we have can support us in this endeavor; but, they can also hinder us if we are not careful. We have to remember the traditions are means, not the end.
The Christian life, first and foremost, is not about ritual, but relationship. Now, that is not to say ritual in and of itself is a bad thing. But, like I said earlier, if we lose our way, if we forget the meaning and purpose, what we find is ourselves just aimlessly going through the motions. In these instances, they tend to become drudgery rather than joyful.
So, whether your traditions are food related, family or faith, be sure to remember their meaning and purpose. Oh, and don’t be afraid to start a few new traditions along the way!