What I know about tradition

I am not all that fond of tradition. It can be used as an excuse for all sorts of things. A reason, so it seems, to keep on doing something that perhaps is best left in the past.

But it’s tradition! The catch cry of the season. If you ask me, that is not enough of a reason to keep on keeping on. There needs to be something more compelling to make me want to join in.

I understand the need for link to the past. I am as nostalgic as the next person, more sometimes. Just ask my husband about the vacuum sealed bags full of baby clothes I lug from house to house. Nostalgia though is not tradition.

Sure, I love to put up a Christmas tree, I love listening to Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald croon Christmas songs. I love a slice of ham on thickly toasted bread, Christmas pud and brandy butter. But I can still have Christmas without theses things. In all honesty, I sometimes think traidition can be all a little too try hard.

If the point has to be forced, if the but it’s tradition phrase seems stuck on repeat, perhaps that particular tradition has had its day. Maybe it needs to be zip locked and vacuum sealed away at the top of the linen cupboard. Forcing the issue should not be the main event of a tradition. If it is, time to let go.

Ritual though is something else altogether.

The way I make a pot of tea. The same movements, the same rhythm of spooning, brewing, pouring.  The way hands are wrapped around cup. Ritual, comfort, meditative practice. Nothing forced. No need to justify. No catch cry of but…

The comfort in dimming lights and lighting candles in the evening.


Sometimes ritual and tradition meet. I like to go to Midnight Mass or a Christmas morning church service. High Church if you please. Incense swinging, candles burning, sung eucharist. Family tradition, steeped in ritual.

So, what do I know about tradition? I know as a family of four we have made our own. Brought some along from our childhoods, discarded others. The ones we have made happened without trying. Without forcing the point.

I know we have rituals as well. Those that are day to day, and some that are more day and date specific.

I know spending time with family, friends, those I love is all the tradition I really need. The rest, it’s just trimmings.


Linking up with That Space In Between for her What I know about… linkup.


  1. Caroline |
  2. Toni |
  3. Hannah |
  4. Roxanne P-Ch |
  5. Sarah - that space in between |
  6. Lisa @ Giving Back Girl |

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