We live in a world where we constantly strive for newer, better, faster everything. We daily play a game of “beat the clock”. New technology is obsolete in weeks, fashions change with the seasons, and a Twitter post has the life span of an hour. And yet, we still cling to certain stories, activities and routines that have been passed down through the ages.
Traditions force us to slow down just a bit. They give us feelings of stability, unity, comfort…and in many cases, the warmth of memories of the past and loved ones who are no longer with us. They can be based in religion, culture, family bonds…. Or even fall into the category of “I don’t know why we do it, we just always have.”
If we take a minute to think about our childhoods, it is often the traditions that we remember the best. Those things we could count on happening every year, or every season. And what most amuses me is the number of things we still do even though they may no longer “make sense”.
Here’s an example. Growing up with a blind brother, my mother frequently adapted certain activities so we all could participate in them together. On Easter morning, we would come downstairs to find a string for each of us, leading into a certain area of the house. This was our version of an egg hunt. We’d follow our strings over furniture, under pillows, boxes, etc., to find our treats – and it put my brother on even ground with us as he followed his string to find his goodies too. We of course thought this was perfectly normal, and for some time assumed that’s how all kids found their Easter eggs. (Just like we thought that all board games had raised edges and braille on them.)
Because this tradition was an important memory for me, when I had a son, I continued it with him. My son is not visually impaired or disabled, and really has no limitations. Yet each Easter morning he is eager to follow his string around the house, finding treats until it ends at the kitchen table with his Easter basket. Through the years, I of course explained to him why “we do it this way.” He knows that it was a tradition that started for his Uncle. And for me, and my son, it is a remembrance of the Grandma he never got to meet.
Does it “make sense” that we use the string method? Nope. Is it a fun tradition? Sure is. Will he use it with his kids some day? Who knows, but I am sure of one thing. He’ll always remember it.