AS I TREK DEEPER into what the hucksters call “senior adulthood,” I’m trying to avoid the pitfalls of dogmatism, stubbornness, narrow-mindedness and prejudice. I have almost always preferred Movements over Institutions.

The idea of traditions for tradition’s sake seems unnecessarily rigid and confining to me. To start from a position of “This is the way we have always done it!” thwarts creativity and discovery. A vivid memory I have of kindergarten is of a little girl who sat next to me raising her hand and saying, “Teacher, Teacher, David’s coloring outside the lines; again!”

That’s right B I am, and in fact if I had my way there would be no lines at all, then where would you be?!

Maybe it is old-age creeping in, but lately I’ve been looking for the baby I threw out with that bath water a long time ago.

Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire."
 —Gustave Mahler

If there is a season that is loaded with traditions it is Christmastime:

  • We always put the tree up on December 1.
  • Where is that star that we always put on top of the tree.
  • We always watch “Christmas Vacation.”
  • We always open one gift on Christmas Eve.
  • There is always a little egg of Silly Putty® in our stockings.

As I sat the other night and watched our Grand-Girls decorate gingerbread houses it dawned on me, my Amazing-Missus has been making these little houses for our two boys, now our Grand-Girls and hundreds of other kids to decorate for more than thirty years. We make gingerbread houses. It’s a tradition and it’s beautiful.

Last Sunday afternoon I sat with my 3 year-old Grand-Girl in my lap waiting for her first performance of The Nutcracker to begin. Next to me was our 6 year-old waiting for her fourth. The youngest was full of questions: Why is it dark in here? Where are the ballerinas? Is this song almost over?

The oldest was fully immersed in the whole Nutcracker experience. During intermission, she danced the first act in the lobby by herself, not caring who was watching. We go see The Nutcracker and after we have cookies and milk. It’s a tradition and it’s beautiful.

Maybe someday they will be too old to want to see The Nutcracker with their Pops. So while they’re off to a movie with some boy who isn't good enough for them, I’ll put Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite on the record player, and while it’s playing, I’ll remember that once we had a tradition, and it was beautiful.

See, they're not so bad after all.