Thursday, November 18, 2010


The preacher loves the movie Fiddler on the Roof, and one of his favorite songs from that movie is “Tradition.”
There is something satisfying -- reassuring -- about doing certain things the same way, over and over and over again. And messing around with family traditions has a price, as one of our daughters found out. (You can read her story about that, here.)
As grandparents, we have multiple opportunities to create, refine, and sustain family traditions. Those traditions help hold a family together, give the family a unique identity, and inject a sense of meaning and fun into our family life. While family traditions can become burdensome, that just means we need to take a look at how they are working, and perhaps update them.
And in truth, as our families grow up, those family traditions will change. The trick is to allow the shape of them to adapt to changing realities (children growing up, moving away, having children of their own) while retaining the inward meaning and pleasures of the tradition.
Like Advent calendars: it would be foolish to expect our grown children to come home every morning to open up an Advent calendar with us, wouldn't it? So how do we adapt that sweet family tradition to the new reality of grown-up children?
Maybe we provide Advent calendars for the grandkids, now, instead. Or perhaps we find a fresh Advent devotional booklet to share with our grown-up children.
In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye teaches us that tradition is important because “it helps us keep our balance.” He's right, I think, but keeping our balance can be tricky, sometimes. Giving our families traditions that help them “keep their balance” is worthwhile.
Tradition -- how do you keep it fresh, but meaningful?

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