Progressively for the last one hundred years or so the idea of traditions being good things has been steadily going out of style. It seems like any time a new scientific idea is thought up, a medical break through happens, or an innovation makes our lives more comfortable things like religion, family relationships, morals and virtues, and even holiday observances become more irrelevant. They are often times chocked up to meaningless “traditions.”
Are traditions important? Or, are they merely taboo? Is there more freedom with or without traditions? Are they good for society or are they limiting?
There was a time, not too long ago, when if something was described as “traditional” it was given special attention and even honored socially. Now days many people use the word in a negative way. I have heard people baulk at the traditional family structure. They have called it too limiting and narrow minded. I have read articles stating that religions are too limiting because of silly traditions that have long since been out-dated. Some people even believe that there should be no right or wrong, but that all things are subjective. Essentially, comments like these are making the truths that have always held our societies together, like the traditional family and religions seem out-dated, silly, and taboo.
Even though these sentiments are not totally new, they are becoming more mainstream. This concerns me. What will our children think about family and religion? Will they think they are merely traditions too?
Putting Traditions In Their Place
Instead of being afraid of traditions being meaningless and rejecting them, it will serve our children better if we honor traditions and prove that traditions don’t define families and religions, instead they are outward manifestations of what the heart feels is most important.
Let’s put this into context. It’s Christmas time right now. I traditionally send Christmas cards to all my family and friends. Is this a tradition? Yes. Is it important? Yes. This tradition is part of my testimony of Jesus, whom the holiday honors. Jesus said to “love one another” and to treat people kindly. A small gesture like a card not only shows others they are loved, but it reminds me how much I should love them when I write, address and send the card. In this way I am acting for my Savior.
There are many other such traditions that could be considered meaningless to some, but to me are moments of light and conviction. We sing carols every year to our neighbors, we give gifts, we decorate our home and put up a Christmas tree. All these things are traditions. But the traditions are not just what is done. The love and gratitude that are felt in my heart for my blessings and my Savior when I deliberately celebrate His birth and life are personal observances of deep conviction and even personal mission. My heart expands and renews each time I perform traditions or honor traditions.
If traditional actions are based on true principles then they should be celebrated, not shunned. If I call my family on each holiday or make cookies with my children on Sunday afternoons I am doing it because I value family and time and joy and connection. These principles are important factors for a happy life and I deliberately do actions that will foster those principles.
Sure, there are some people who call their family members and make cookies with their children to win some imaginary perfect mommy award or so that the family members will not give them back-lash for not calling, but hopefully these people are the minority. If people take action and create traditions just to manipulate people or to look good to others then they will be hollow actions indeed.
When traditional observances come from the heart they strengthen the person participating and the society the person lives in as well because the person’s heart has aligned itself with goodness.
Don’t we all want a society where people willingly do good for the sake of good? What kind of place would that be? No selfishness, no greed, no contention or back-biting. What a place. It would be peace.
This time of year the phrase “peace on earth” is used to describe the miracle of Christmas. I agree. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. As I observe our favorite holiday traditions this year they will be infinitely more important to me because they are traditions. Traditions give us identity, they give us purpose, and they spread the love of God.
I’m all for traditions. They aren’t out-dated or taboo. They are the things people have participated in from the beginning of time to strengthen the most important things mankind has; faith and family.
A world without faith, family, and traditions would not be a happy place.