Traditions ““ Hold On to the Good

Traditions

Grandma’s attic used to be a place that safely kept treasures and would take its visitors to another world through the memories it held captive in its archives. One could go there and sit for hours, nostalgically sifting through old photographs, hand-made treasures and mementos that would bring their heritage to life. There within the old trunk, dusty and musty, you could undoubtedly discover that your ancestors were real as you touched items that touched them so many years ago. As we have stepped into a new millennium and left that antique world behind, many of us still try to hold on to family traditions that take us back to our childhood. Those traditions are more easily lost as our society tends to put less importance on things that are old versus the new and in style. Just as the old attic trunk safely held its treasures that helped bring back old memories, we must also do what is needed to retain traditions valuable to us.

When we have young children it seems easier to carry on some of the fun family traditions. At my friend’s house the Easter Bunny ties yarn to the children’s hidden baskets then weaves the yarn through each room of the house until finally the end is tied to the child’s” bedroom doorknob. In visualizing what this tradition would have been like a century or more ago, I laugh as I picture a dozen yarn ends tied to one single bedroom door handle. Maybe that tradition was started not too many generations ago. Which brings me to the thought that family traditions can begin with you, for your children and for future generations to follow. I think of how my sister, who without fail, spends a little time with each of her children at bedtime. She has built a tradition fostering good relationships with her now teenage kids, spending time talking and being with them when the house has gone still. What a wonderful legacy my sister is leaving in teaching her children that they are important and loved enough to be given that precious time each night, when I’m sure many tasks and chores stand waiting.

I recently read an article by Donald L. Hallstrom, who was born in Hawaii yet has lived throughout the world. He referred to Hawaii as the “isles of the sea” and called it a melting pot, stating that, “others have more accurately referred to the islands as a delicious stew, with each culture maintaining an identity, but blending together in a harmonious societal broth which can be savored by all.” He continues on by saying, “I have long been interested in culture and tradition and their influence on how we look, think, and act. Our culture and its related traditions help establish our sense of identity and fill the vital human need to belong.” He further goes on by telling how, “anciently, Hawaiians had a practice, the spirit of which is still exhibited today by many in the islands. When greeting another person, one would come face-to-face and offer an expression of ‘ha,’ even expelling their breath for another to feel. The literal translation of ha is ‘the breath of life.’ It was a way to give of oneself and show another a deep sense of brotherly love and caring. When foreigners first came to Hawaii, they did not exhibit this same respect for others. They were called haole, ha-ole, meaning ‘without ha.'”

I believe respect is a vital component in accepting and holding on to traditions. It is important to think for yourself and design your life by realizing which traditions encourage good and healthy behavior versus those that are damaging yet neatly packaged to appear as good. Only take from those that benefit. There are bad traditions just as well as good; tradition can be dangerous if we allow its power to bring forth bad into the next generation. We must guard against lifting up and passing on those traditions that do not foster healthy habits. An example of this might be the need to celebrate a certain day for one’s culture with an overindulgence of alcohol and feeling justified in doing so. Teaching that overindulgence, whether it be of food, drink or fun,” is fine under certain circumstances can carry those bad habits forward to future generations. And yes, you can also be the one to end those that are harmful and replace them with different traditions.

As we start our new day it is up to us to decide what will be treasured and kept for future generations or what will be discarded and left behind. Even if children are not part of your legacy, you too can grasp onto traditions and positively influence others around you with the heritage you hold and carry forth. Mother Teresa hadn’t children of her own, yet she adopted the children of the world as her influence of charity and goodness spread to all corners of the earth. Your influence can be great and deeply affect another internally just as the “ha” brings a breath of charity and compassion and an intense feeling from the giver’s soul. It is that influence that will be remembered by those generations we may never meet as they grasp onto and live the traditions we leave with them when we are gone.

In Other’s Words:

“A tradition without intelligence is not worth having.”

~T.S. Eliot~

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