Following Our Traditions
by Jeff Piersall, Nov. 2012
The only constant in life is change . . . and the battle can be exhausting. I love the statement President Theodore Roosevelt made:
In the battle of life it is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or the doer of the deed could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who have never tasted neither victory nor defeat.”
Success is not a destination, it is a journey and Coach John Wooden described it well when he said, “Success is the place where you know you have done your best when it was needed.” You see, success is not measured by the outcome; society does that. Success is that place where you know you did your best, because your best is all you have.
Keeping Your Heading
Why do we hold so dearly the traditions of our lives? Because in a journey of constant change, we need guardrails and light posts to mark our way and keep us on the path. Traditions bring more than a celebration of the past; they bring hope and shine a light on our future.
Traditions, rich in values, give us a bedrock foundation to know what to believe in and how to create hope that leads to prosperity. Unfortunately, every year more and more people seem to have forgotten the purpose and meaning of many traditions – some are reduced to just a “day off” from work. Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Martin Luther King Day, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day and Thanksgiving – these days of recognition are important reminders of the past, which if remembered and honored build the character of the individual – the character traits that lead to prosperity.
The difference in the traditional values of holidays is best demonstrated in examination of Christmas and New Year’s. Christmas is a time for Christians to celebrate the birth of the most impactful individual to ever walk the earth. New Year’s, on the other hand, carries absolutely no value – the changing of the calendar, which is preceded by a party the night before and followed by goals that are broken within 14 days.
Preserving Our Past
Our ability to accurately remember the past is preserved in traditions. The value of those traditions has a direct correlation to our prosperity, but when the historical value is forgotten or becomes tainted with historical revisions, so too is our prosperity. I find it bewildering that we are told to remove “Christ” from Christmas, which is laughable because “there is only ‘mas’ without Christ.”
Besides national traditions, families establish traditions also. For some, Sunday afternoon used to be a time when families gathered and ate together; Grandma cooked and the kids played in the backyard. There was a time, and it still exists in some communities, that families lived, worked and played together. Thanksgiving is all about the table and giving “thanks” for the blessings we have in our life, which starts with family. It is not just four days off of work, football and shopping.
When traditions in a family are honored and preserved, they build a value bond that will teach and pass on a legacy to younger generations. Families are in the midst of transition, attempting to figure out what to hold on to and many seem to not understand why or how to build traditions. The proof is in our children, many of whom do not have a compass for their life, which can only come from the values rooted in our traditions.
What’s It All About?
Why do we fail to maintain traditions? Commitment. It takes commitment and if there is a virtue that we fail to teach, it is commitment. Our definition of commitment has become, “If the situation and circumstances fit my needs.” Commitment is doing what you said you would do after the mood of when you said you would do it has worn off. It is the love, passion and WORK after the honeymoon is over.
The traditions in life provide the rudder for your boat – they guide and direct you, they keep you grounded, and they are your family’s link between the future and the past. With the way families are spread out now, and the activity levels that children are forced to maintain these days, traditions have become extremely difficult to keep. Family traditions are, however, well worth fighting for. Sometimes traditions are the glue that holds a family together.
How’s your family holding up?