Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Why Tradition Usually Prevails during Holidays

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Why Tradition Usually Prevails during Holidays

Article excerpt

HERE'S how to create a family holiday tradition all your own:

1. You start with an inherited pattern of celebrations that you have never quite liked. Typically, at every Thanksgiving dinner or Fourth of July picnic, there is at least one cherub coldly appraising the scene in all its homely detail and thinking, "This is stupid. I have to put up with it now, but when I'm grown up, things are going to be different."

2. You grow up to preside over your own household. Visiting obligations aside, you are in a position to decide how holidays should be celebrated. Childhood vows being sacred to the child who made them, you do things your way. 3. You sense something is missing. 4. After a while, you restore the inherited elements you didn't like, because otherwise it doesn't quite feel right. 5. You try to impress the charm of the result upon your own children, in the hope that they will continue your way of doing things when no longer obliged to do so. At the risk of stating the obvious, Miss Manners will point out that this is why it is called tradition. Whooping things up in your own way, jolly as it may be, is something else. It may be all very well, but it doesn't carry the same emotional weight - which is why people are never as moved by wedding ceremonies written by the participants, however much feeling they contain, as they are by the time-honored service. There is no such thing as spontaneous tradition. The point of tradition is its history. Sure, it gets altered along the way. Technological and social changes are incorporated. The invention of electric lights took the candles off the Christmas tree until the invention of nostalgia brought them back. Families are no longer divided by gender after dinner, between the kitchen and the living room. Now they are divided more or less by gender according to who wants to watch the game on television, and who would just as soon do the dishes while talking about everyone else. …

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