“And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition!” The rest of the movie, The Fiddler on the Roof, is about Tevye trying to keep his balance in shifting traditions.
Can you relate? Are you in a time of tradition transition? Maybe it’s a move, the addition of a family member, the loss of a family member or a new season of life. A couple of those are happening in our family.
This year I’m getting ready for our second Thanksgiving without my Mom. My sister lives in Thailand. And our kids are launching–one son lives in England and my daughter is in Utah. That means fewer of us crammed in the car for the ten-hour road trip—a Thanksgiving tradition.
It’s not the first time for our traditions to transition…
- First there was the blending of family traditions when we got married–that’s a whole story in itself.
- Then we moved to Venezuela—where they don’t even have Thanksgiving on the calendar, football on the TV, fall weather or family within a day’s drive. But they do have pumalacas that ripen in November, pan de jamon, gaita music and hallacas.
- With each kid we added to our family it seems we added traditions as well.
- Then came West Texas—a chance to revisit old traditions (road trips again) and sync them with new ones imported from Venezuela.
We add traditions, and we let some go. Some years we had more than 100 of us in Arkansas for Thanksgiving. Other times there were just three of us in Venezuela. We’ve gathered with smores around the campfire, pumalaca cobbler in Venezuela, or an LSU game in Baton Rouge.
Whatever the season, though, through the years our family has stayed true to the tradition of having traditions. It’s unclear what new traditions we will settle into during a transition. But eventually we’ll settle.
I keep reminding myself of that this year as we enter into the holidays because it’s a transition year again–a bit shaky as we find our balance. Thanksgiving and Christmas will look different. I find myself looking back, aware of what is no more. But I don’t want to get stuck there. I also want to look ahead.
Since we’ve made it through these transitions before, I’m leaning on some of the lessons I’ve learned in the past to get through the present. I want to share them with you today, because I know I’m not the only one with traditions in transition.
Here are four tips to remember…
1. It’s normal for traditions to transition. The changing seasons of life cause traditions to fall by the wayside like the leaves fall from trees at this time of year. If your traditions seem a little shaky, don’t worry, it’s normal.
2.You’re not alone. That should be obvious, since these transitions are normal, but sometimes we can feel like we’re the only ones making the changes while everyone else continues in their time tested traditions. Maybe your best friend is doing the same thing they’ve done for years. But if you look around, there are others in transition too. It happens to lots of people.
3.Do something! Instead of lingering on the loss, do something. Anything is better than feeling sorry for yourself that things just aren’t the same anymore. Maybe you join forces with others in transition. Or you volunteer to serve a Thanksgiving meal downtown. Go bowling, hike a trail or visit your long lost uncle. But do something.
4.Anticipate the new. Who knows what our family will be looking forward to five years from now, but we’ll be looking forward to something. We’ll find something new that we like, something that works for our season, and we’ll do it again. And it will stick. Before we know it, it will be a family tradition.
As we enter this holiday season, yes I feel tender from the losses (2 Tips for a tender heart in the holidays), but I’m also feeling eager. I eagerly looking ahead because it’s our family tradition to have traditions. Even when we’re in transition, we’re anticipating new traditions.
And as Tevye said, “Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as… as a fiddler on the roof!”
What tradition transitions are you facing this year?