Tradition loves to be found and, once discovered, it likes to be named to be fully uncovered. This year I found tradition in carols sung and in the ornaments hung. Tradition wafted from the kitchen as gingerbread men (and girls) and Moravian Sugar Cake baked in the oven. Tradition tingled in the bells we jingled as we sang with our baby granddaughter though Skype. Tradition stood with us as we watched the two older granddaughters (one an angel and the other a sheep) in their Christmas pageant on Christmas Eve. Tradition burned brightly and solemnly in the candles we held as we sang Silent Night. Tradition walked with us under the bright night sky that was Bethlehem Blue.
On Christmas Day tradition stood in our circle as four generations joined hands and sang Joy to World. Tradition helped set the table with candy canes, candles, and special Christmas plates.
Tradition is not a tyrant; it bends and evolves and changes to make space for grace. Tradition is a bookmark in the rhythm of life; it marks time or place or story or milestone. It is a way to see something new by returning to the old and familiar. Tradition does not clutter life– it clears the way for the things that really matter. Tradition does not have a religious preference, but it will help live us live faith meaningfully; tradition helps the heart turn holidays into holy days.
Tradition is strong and delicate– a paper chain with links added on or torn away. Tradition is simple and intricate– a cutout snowflake taped to the window to announce the season. Tradition honors the newly empty chair and helps pull up a new chair to table; it welcomes and it remembers. And it lets go. Tradition is old practice tailored to new situations. Tradition begins as something new and then waits for our invitation…
“That was fun, let’s do that again.”
“Remember that time? Let’s do that again.”
“That was so meaningful, let’s do that again.”
Today tradition will stand watch as music, cookie cutters, ornaments, and special dishes are carefully packed away. Tradition stays out of the boxes– it has other work to do throughout the year.
Tomorrow I’ll put the key in the door and open up Room 204. There tradition is not tied to creed or culture. Tradition invites us to celebrate our diversity and commonality all at once. Some of our classroom traditions have endured for many, many years. Others are fairly new. Some new traditions are being created by this class and will be carried forward.
“Happy New Year!” we say to one another. That is tradition, too. Tradition helps us reach across lines of faith to bless one another in a way that universal and respectful.
Happy New Year to you and yours!