Traditions are like a favorite cardigan. It brings the comfort of familiarity and the warmth of consistency. If it gets lost or torn it is a sorrow to the heart. Along these same lines, however, we’ve all known the child who had a stuffed animal or blankie they held onto for far too long. The freshman who takes lamb-y off to college should have been taught at some point to let it go. Many people keep an iron fist on bedraggled traditions, refusing to let go even though the ends are frayed, the fabric has lost its hue, and everyone else is ready to move on.
As we approach the holidays and you prepare for family gatherings, remember that the traditions we have need to be viewed rightly. Traditions should serve the people, the people must not be slaves of the tradition. If you find yourself pouting that your family got the order wrong on some tradition, and you’re muttering to yourself, “the star goes on the Christmas tree before the egg nog drinking contest,” you are like that freshman who won’t let go of their stuffed animal.
If you hold on to the traditions too tightly you’ll find that you’ve drained them of all enjoyment, leaving only a bitter rind. Now, none of this is to disparage traditions in and of themselves. Too frequently the word “traditions” is used pejoratively.
Traditions are a true earthly comfort & can be of great blessing. Think of them as corporate habits. As with any habit, we must thoughtfully weigh it against the Word of God. And, if it’s a lawful activity, enjoy it, maintain it, and then let it die, let it go when the time comes. Traditions ought to add warmth & color to your joyful fellowship. If the traditions aren’t doing that, it’s time to donate them to the thrift store.
God’s Word commands us to “keep the feast without bitterness or malice”; yet because of our envy and self-conceit we often try to wield family & cultural traditions as a club to beat our family members into alignment with our self-centered power trip. On the other hand, we live in a moment that despises the old ways, spurns our Protestant heritage, and is in rebellion to the principles which made Western Civilization flourish. Our duty in this time is to go about reviving good & godly traditions, as well as, with courageous humility, maintaining those traditions which foster true familial love & fellowship, to the honor and glory of God our Father.