Wednesday, November 27, 2013


tradition |trəˈdiSHən|
1 the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way an age-old tradition: custom, practice, convention, ritual, observance, way, usage, habit, institution; formal praxis.

My sister Jo and I had lunch at the local Cracker Barrel where Christmas 2013 is in full swing. Thanksgiving is late this yeargotta get on with it. Even so, there is nothing I don’t love about that place. I’ve often remarked I could live there. They could put a cot for me in the back room. I could eat three great meals a day. In exchange I could stay on exhibition like a fossil encased in stone among the relics and memorabilia of the vaguely familiar traditions long retired. 

Moseying around, all my senses fully engaged in the sparkling new as well as the worn-out rusty old on display,  I thought about this dynamic and how, because of nothing more than age, I have witnessed the cycle of life through several generations, family traditions created, then adjusted to accommodate the ever changing circumstances, starting with my own childhood core family, through the growing up of my children and now my grandchildren. It seems, in the middle of a growing family stage and the traditions we enjoy, we are given to believe they will continue forever. We never consider otherwise. And then, one day, life does what it does and the old is set aside to make way for the new. 

The word ‘tradition’ brings to mind unchanging, standard, something forever expectable and memorable. In truth, over time, it’s a challenge to maintain our little rituals and customs because time inevitably rearranges things. Families mature, expand and shrink; life, above all, is a living thing. Kids, the primary reason for establishing traditions, grow up and out and evolve into the inescapable–the establishment of their own traditions. 

It’s called the circle of life. And it’s okay.

This process is nothing if not traditional. But in this age, when new and improved is constantly seeking to displace what is old, ergo that which is deemed traditional, old has suddenly become outdated before it has fully finished it’s usefulness. New for the sake of being the latest greatest thing is very often not even a close second to what it replaces in terms of function. More often than not, the update/upgrade/innovation doesn’t even work as well–if at all. But it doesn’t matter because next week it will be revised anyway. 

Regardless my decades of experience seeing things come and go, traditions formed and reformed, and this can be extended to include morals, ideals, religions, philosophies, inventions and customs morphing from one thing into another, I have never seen such manic acceleration as there is now. There’s a saying that life speeds up as you age but I recognize something else happening, dark and potentially destructive, which does not bode well. I’m seeing something symptomatic of a more troubling force in play. When there is no longer enough time allotted to develop a tradition because the next new thing is already in queue to render all before it obsolete, the inevitable happens. When fundamental, foundational, age-proven conventions are relegated to the archives and replaced with short-term, short-sighted praxis, civilization rapidly declines into the abyss of self-destruction. 

Clearly, there is no time for tradition nowadays. Life has become one giant frenzied expectation for the next concept/thing that must replace the one before it. Of course, most of this is in large part attributable to the beast of commerce and its ever insatiable hunger that devours us in great greedy gulps as we pretend we are better for it and that we even like it. 

I don’t know about you, but I prefer slow and easy, everything allowed its time to be, time to mellow, come to fruition and shape impressions that become strong guidelines for constructive, productive living. Yes, I’m an old fogey and I could easily fit into the decor of Cracker Barrel, along with the remnants of the traditions of our American past. But I’d rather be a relic that still works, (even without a battery) though. I just would. Stable, reliable, nurturing, up-building, antithesis to decimating, these attributes describe the function of long-established tradition.

Isn’t something old that still works better than something all shiny new that doesn’t? 

For Christ,

(Daniel 12:3) And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.  (12:4) But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.  

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