Tradition vs Intent
16 January 2016
We are creatures of habit. At least I am. I have foods that I eat all the time, shows I like to watch over and over. A favorite shirt, music that is always on my Go-To Playlist, the path I drive to places I frequent. And on and on. And then there are Traditions.
Some traditions are endearing ~ like Christmas mornings, a favorite clam chowder recipe, the songs we sing at our Birthday events, the way we keep connected to those that we love, our sense of style with the clothes we wear. Other traditions are kinda murky. We do them because, well because we just do them okay?? For me, why do I stringently manage my sock drawer the way I do? Why is it that I own 17 partially filled journals? Do I really have to scrub my entire body in the shower prior to shaving my legs – does clean hair slide down the drain better or something? These traditions of mine are just the silly ones. There are those that bear more weight, that have a deeper pull on my soul. They are things like, why do I go to church every Sunday here? Or I have heard this tradition dozens of times “I really really hate my job, but I cannot leave. I’m not sure what else I would do.” Same goes for relationships we keep. Or not keep.
Do not unwittingly assume that I am anti-tradition. I love them. Even packing for a vacation is a tradition that I warmly embrace (don’t judge me for that). My question is a simple one. A Small and Simple one. Sometimes does the tradition powerfully overwhelm the intent of the tradition? Christmas is a sweet example of this. As a mom, I have always loved the fun of Christmas. With 6 little kids it was such a blast! I love to make each gift just perfect for them. I love to wrap it just so, so that the presentation kind of prepares them for the awesome gift inside that incredible wrapping job! And then there’s the food and the goodies and the decorating and the cards to keep in touch with all these people from next to all over and the stocking fillers and the Christmas events that pop up without warning that we just have to attend. It was exhausting. Every year. Should I have started in May to ease the stressful burden of Christmas? I am sure you could continue my list on the Christmas Machine. And I am not here to tell you when or how or why to Unplug the Christmas Machine. Actually my thoughts are not about ratting out any specific holiday at all. I merely want to understand the ‘why’ part.
Why do I do this certain thing? Why do I go here all the time? Why do I keep getting sucked into this drama over here? Why do I allow this person to cut me to shreds inside all the time and never say anything or do anything about it? Why do I keep starting this same goal over and over again? If your ‘why’ is flimsy, or needs propping up by fake add-ons to make it sound genuine then it is time to reconsider. My grandfather used to say all of the time, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” As I kid, I was more mortified that he used ‘the H word’ in front of me. As a practicing adult, I get it now. Boy do I get it! Intent is good. It means that we are forward moving, forward thinking, embracing a plan and a path that we desire. So if you feel stressed out by stuff this week – stop and ponder the ‘why’ of it. And perhaps you will get up the courage to challenge a tradition that you no longer need. Maybe simply change it to suit who you are now and where you would like to be headed. Change is good. Just make sure you are headed on the right road when you put on your turn signal.