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Real Answers™
Copyright: ©2007 Jan Merop
515 words


By: Jan Merop

Immediately upon hearing the word “tradition,” the song from the play/movie, “Fiddler on the Roof” comes to mind.  For the Papa, tradition was the answer to everything while often solving nothing.

I’m not down on tradition – especially at this time of year when traditions abound in every family.  I’d just like to examine it a little more closely.

When I think of the Christmas traditions I grew up with in my family, I remember shopping for the best buy in a Christmas tree.  I can still feel the cold air stinging my face as the tree salesman pulled out tree after tree – shook it free – and we all examined it.  But, it was my mom’s eye that knew when just the right one had been found that also fit dad’s wallet.

Large family gatherings ended with 11 p.m. – midnight Christmas Eve services and heightened the anticipation of waiting to open gifts on Christmas morning.  Then my Dad coaxed my brother and me to run through the foyer into the living room where presents were stacked under the tree while he recorded it on his eight mm movie camera. 

We kept some of those traditions alive for as long as possible with our children.  But, we also added new ones that suited our family in particular.  Tradition has a way of rooting us and giving us something to look forward to each year.

That favorite dish prepared just like grandma used to make; a unique bread recipe handed down from ancestors; holiday decorations glittering with sentiment.  It’s all good.  Unless it traps us into thinking it’s sacred.

Sometimes change intrudes on tradition and we fight it tooth and nail.  Instead of tradition gently enfolding families it becomes like some unwritten law to be adhered to.  Then being strong-armed by tradition, family tensions rise.  Nostalgia is replaced by forced smiles hiding stress.  We can’t wait for the holidays and accompanying expectations to be over.

However, if we really wanted to celebrate Christmas traditionally, we’d be visiting a cave and sharing the barest necessities while accompanied by cows, donkeys and sheep.  I doubt Mary, Joseph, Jesus and his brothers and sisters repeated that first Christmas experience every year.

Leaving room for the sacred may sometimes mean putting aside traditions that may pull us from the true meaning of that first Christmas. 

Mary and Joseph were not home for the traditional Jewish holidays.  They even became refugees as they traveled to Egypt to flee King Herod’s evil slaughter of infant boys.

The Christmas story is one of unveiled mystery – and yet – beyond our comprehension.  God becoming flesh and dwelling among us as the prophet foretold in Isaiah 7:14. 

When we set up the nativity and place Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the shepherds and sheep in our scenes each year – let’s remember the sacred tradition of worshipful wonder that was born that night. 

Focus on the wonder of God with us; this extraordinary gift of Christmas.  A love so profound; and, yet, brought in simplicity to ordinary people like you and me. 

Such a tradition grounds us and frees us for every season of life.


"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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