Why is tradition so important to us? Frank Sonnenberg, an award-winning author and thought leader, speaks of tradition as being “a critical piece of our culture. They help form the structure and foundation of our families and our society. They remind us that we are part of a history that defines our past, shapes who we are today and who we are likely to become. Once we ignore the meaning of our traditions, weʼre in danger of damaging the underpinning of our identity.”
With summer being over, and the chilly air of fall being present, my mind has moved towards the many holidays so closely upon us. One, holds a special place in my heart, with that being Christmas. Now you are probably asking yourself, why are you thinking of Christmas in September?! I know, I know, but I can’t help that it popped into my mind last night. Christmas has changed a lot over the years for me and navigating this change has proven challenging at times. Whether it be a child who has moved away, a death in the family, a divorce, a new relationship, or a plethora of other reasons, holding onto traditions when times are changing can be challenging and emotional. With my traditions having changed over the years, I reflected on why our traditions are so important to us and why this change can be so challenging. According to Sonnenberg, “traditions contribute to a sense of comfort and belonging”, they “reinforce values…such as faith”, they “create an avenue for lasting memories” and “they offer context for meaningful pause and reflection.”
While my traditions have already changed significantly, I am entering a year where change is evident once again. And with this, I realized that change is always happening, even in the most traditional sense of family, change will come upon us. It is just a matter of time, when a child grows up, gets married and is required to split their time between families or the birth of a new child, or the merging of two family’s due marital splits and new starts. The one key thing I have taken away about change, and this is any change; change brings new beginnings. Change can be challenging for even the best of people but learning to navigate change, coming into your own peace with change and learning to embrace it rather than fight it, is a valuable gift. Change brings new memories and excitement, and along with that, can come new traditions. One of the best pieces of knowledge that was given to me when I first experienced change in my traditions in 2008, was to find a way to create new traditions and new memories. Make this purposeful and intentional instead of being a victim of change. This empowerment will create a sense of strength and excitement as you navigate your new beginnings.
While you navigate change in your own life, think of the possibilities, create new beginnings, develop excitement for something new, and incorporate some of the old tradition with new ones in the making.
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Frank Sonnenberg, (June 2015). 7 Reasons Why Traditions are So Important. Retrieved 3 September 2020.