How Tradition Can Be Beautiful
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How Tradition Can Be Beautiful

What makes a "living" tradition

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How Tradition Can Be Beautiful
Sarah Browning

Christmas always gets me thinking about tradition (of course) and family traditions, religious traditions, and whether or not tradition is a good thing. I feel like a lot of people my age are prone to resenting and rejecting tradition of any sort, or that the idea of "tradition" is an immediate turn off. Some of this is fair, but depending on the tradition, often it is not. Living traditions are remarkable things, sacred and ancient and sometimes transcendent, but dead traditions are just that, dead.

One Christmas tradition that I have always enjoyed is my entire family wearing "Christmas pajamas" to bed on Christmas Eve. It used to be that we would all match and that my mama would take a picture on Christmas morning when we woke up, but now it's more that we all choose our Christmas pajamas as a fun way of getting into the Christmas spirit. I fully intend to uphold this tradition whenever I get married and have a family of my own. This tradition feels alive; it makes everybody excited and happy and spirited.

I think the key with traditions is that they must be living. Traditions are like trees. Old trees are majestic and they have lived so long because they are either well-cared for or so resilient, or some combination of both, but once they have died, they become crippling and dangerous. Dead traditions are useless, but living ones are sacred.

The tricky things is that sometimes traditions die rightfully, and sometimes they die wrongfully. Sometimes they deserved attention and they were given none; sometimes they had no heart and they were chopped down. There is nothing inherently wrong with tradition. In fact, it is often very beautiful and wise and worth continuing, but it must be kept alive. That is, you should always know why a certain tradition exists, that is part of its heart, part of its being mindful and alive. If it has no reason then it is dead or dying. So another key for living traditions is remembering the reasons they are upheld. It is worthwhile to research tradition, whether it's family or religious or historical or otherwise; and to discern whether or not if the tradition is worth keeping alive, or if it is dead and should be dead. Like I said, dead traditions are useless, but living ones are sacred.

Christmas is a time of life and remembering, and it ought to be living and remembered to you, in whatever way that unfolds itself, which may require watering, chopping down and planting anew, or some form of grafting, whatever is needed for life and pulse.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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