“Tra-DI-tions! Traditions! Traditions!” , sings Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof’s delightful main character. Tevye playfully narrates how traditions balance a community. Even though he has no idea of the origins of his community’s traditions. He lauds the clarity they produce. Each member understanding their role, duties, and responsibilities. Therefore peace, balance, and harmony prevail! Except when they don’t…as his daughters question the villages traditions; wanting their lives to reflect their desires.
Thankfully, modern-day lifestyles create new traditions, enhancing the important and meaningful old ones. Upholding traditions is instrumental to well-being. They provide the best of what life has to offer.
1. Sharing. We share gratitude, love, gifts, and food with friends and family. Socialize with neighbors at community events like holiday tree trimming parties, church musical performances, or neighborhood open house parties. The act of sharing connects us. Emotional connection strengthens our immune system, lowers anxiety and depression, and lengthens our life so we can participate in more traditions! “I love it simply because it is an opportunity to get together with friends and loved ones to give thanks for all we enjoy in life.” -Maria-Jose
2. Playfulness. Be it winter holiday, spring holiday, or birthdays, play is present! Playing is relaxing and joyful. Adult play may be planning surprises for children and passing down traditions. While play for children means no school, hanging with cousins, and sharing gifts! How the player experiences the play gives us a window into their soul.
3.Reflection. Taking moments during holiday activities for a loving, honest, and thoughtful stroll down memory lane deepens love for our children, significant others, and friends. To passed on family members and friends it provides a heartfelt connection. It opens us to relive successful experiences and feel gratitude for resolved problems.
4.Growth. The rhythmic gathering for holidays signifies the passage of time. We witness the physical and emotional growth of younger family members. The child who once needed lifting to sit on a counter while cookie making, now lifts a smaller cousin into the advantageous spot to frost and decorate. Returning to childhood traditions highlights where you came from and who influenced you for better or worse.
5. Feasting and Storytelling. Sharing the traditional meal and post feast walk delivers comfort and connection thru stories and “catching up”. The retelling of the story of forgetting to turn on the oven therefore the main course remained frozen while dinner was enjoyed. Those favorite pies that plopped to the floor and the dogs that rushed in to devour them. Tahir Shah’s quote captures the essence, “My father used to say that stories are part of the most precious heritage of mankind.”
6. Anticipation. Wikipedia says anticipation, or being enthusiastic, is an emotion involving pleasure, excitement, and sometimes anxiety in considering some expected or longed-for good event. Science reveals that, anticipation is the process of imaginative speculation about the future. The brain uses information about gravity, curvature, obstacles etc. to make a prediction. A burst of joyfulness arrives as thoughts of the tradition appear or are shared.
7. Slowing down. The slowed pace prompts meaningful conversation, savoring of meals, thoughtful reflection, chair naps, playtime, hugs, relaxed movie watching, and laughter. All good for the soul and heart!
While enjoying the benefits from traditions remember, “Tradition is not to preserve the ashes. But to pass on the flame.” (Gustav Mahler)
Then raise your glass and proclaim, as Tevye did, “To Life! L’chi -iam!” Happy Holidays!
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