The Same-old Wonderful Same-old

Maybe “tradition” isn’t a cop-out, after all.

My wife and I (this is the first Christmas I’ve been able to call her my “wife”) just finished decorating our apartment for Christmas. We put on holiday music and hung the garland and put out the cinnamon-scented candles and put together the little light-up ceramic village her sisters got me for Christmas two years ago. Later this week, we’ll get our tree from the high school down the road, tie it to the roof of my little car and drive very slowly back to our apartment complex, where we’ll try to get it inside and into the tree stand without having to saw off knobs and knots with my Leatherman.

It’s only the third year we’ve been living together, the third year we’ve gone through the motions of making our apartment holiday-friendly, but already it feels like tradition.

I’m not sure how I feel about tradition. On one hand, it seems a too-easy answer to the question, “Why do we do things this way?” A way to answer an honest query by evading it. Traditiooooon. It’s the instinct to choose the way things have always been done over new ways because of a simple fear of change.

On the other hand, traditions provide a kind of safety and warmth and surety in a life that has precious little of the three. While this particular tradition doesn’t have the weight of one sanctioned by a church, to me it seems just as important, just as precious.

The week before Christmas will be our third annual Christmas party. Our apartment will be filled with our closest friends, and we’ll feed them and laugh with them and, if they’re of a mind, get them severely toasted.

And, as long as our friends are our friends and the cookies and cocktails stay stocked, the answer to the question “why do we do things this way” is pretty easy: I wouldn’t want it to change.

Article © 2006 by Steve Spotswood