I was pulling out my Christmas decorations the other day, as I always do the day after Thanksgiving, and I couldn't help but laugh at myself. As much as I hate to see people caught up in rituals, I realized that I was one of those people. I always put up my Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving; I only play Christmas music during the season, and I overload on Christmas movies. I am so full of the Holiday Spirit by Christmas Day that all my friends call me Mrs. Claus.
Not to say that following traditions are a bad thing( I use my mothers recipe for making eggnog because it is the best, not simply because the season calls for it). But it's when we allow the traditions to overtake our lives, and not allow for spontaneity that we miss the whole meaning of life. I mean would you tell Aunt Trina; who has been praying for a man for 20 years and has now found a steady up through the holidays, that she can't bring her date to the family dinner because you only have room for 20, just like you do every year? You wouldn't dare!!!
Isn't this is why so many of us don't attend church services? We already know how every second of the service will go. Or what about the annual Company Holiday Dinner? Or your little nieces ballet troupes Annual Dance Recital. They always perform The Nutcracker and little Jenny is always a Sugar Plum Fairy.
The act of doing something merely because it is always done this way becomes trite and meaningless. We fail to find value in ourselves and our lives when no passion or real thought is put into the things we do, day after day. Moments or events that occur in our lives would lose value and not remain in the corners of our memory, if we were to succumb to mere human rituals and traditions. I attended my brothers wedding several years ago, and the one thing that stands out the most to me about the ceremony is the fact that the officiating minister forgot my brothers name. My brothers name is Tom, but the minister kept calling him Samuel.
My dream wedding use to consist of a dozen bridesmaids and groomsmen. There would be bells, lace, a long train to my gown, and roses all over the place in a chapel with hundreds of guest. I now dream of a room or hall where my groom and myself would stand in an empty room before the minister and declare our vows. Talk about bucking tradition.
Don't think I'm putting you down if the night before Christmas you bake the cookies and place them on a plate along with a glass of milk, waiting for the big guy to arrive. I'm just saying if the cookies should happen to burn and your child suggest making peanut butter crackers instead don't have a cow. We have traditions because the original event was so life changing and memorable for all involved, that we want to relive that moment year after year and time after time. We want our family and friends to enjoy the times and conversations we share. We want each gathering to be magical.
So once you have put up the tree and are preparing for the ceremonial lighting, look around at the faces of those in your presence; smile and add that moment into your memory bank.