The loss of traditions
By: By Don Harold Lawrence
During the holidays many people grieve over lost traditions that have been important in their lives. For example, as one gets older they may not be able to cook favorite recipes or go shopping like they did when they were younger. They may remember past holidays when they had large Christmas trees with lots of presents, but now they may live alone or in a nursing home and have no tree or presents. Cherished traditions are now only memories.
The loss of traditions happens, in part, due to change that is constantly taking place. Children grow up, move and pursue their own lives. As people go through various stages of life and get older, their lives change dramatically. Thus, with the passage of time, one’s circumstances change, and this has a profound effect upon family rituals and traditions.
The death of loved ones greatly affect traditions. For example, I long to hear Dad remind Mother to cook black-eye peas with hog’s jaw for our family meal on New Year’s Day, but they are now both dead. Favorite Christmas movies no longer mean what they did because the people who watched and enjoyed them with us are now deceased. Traditions are meaningful, in part, because of the people who shared them with us.
When we realize we are no longer able to continue important traditions, we experience grief. I am saddened when I drive by the house where my grandparents raised their six children. Holiday traditions were important to that family, but now the old house is deserted, deteriorating and falling in upon itself, and the only sound one can hear in that house now on Christmas Eve is the whisper of the wind blowing through the open roof.
I remember Christmas traditions Dad, Mother and I shared; traditions in the church we attended while I was growing up; stores where I shopped for their presents; and the old decorations that hung across the city streets each year. But the passing of time has changed all of this, and it is now only a memory of what happened long ago.
The passage of time brings change that results in the loss of cherished traditions, and we experience grief in response to this loss. Coping with this type of grief necessitates our recognizing that change is constant, that life is forever moving forward, that the loss of traditions is a realistic part of life and that it is critical that we choose to make necessary adjustments to these changes and losses and establish new and meaningful rituals and traditions to replace those we have lost. We, thus, weave all of this into the overall experiences of life so that it deepens our appreciation for all that life has brought to us in the past and will continue to bring to us in the future. The alternative to this is to remain mired in the past and stuck in grief.
Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelfordfuneraldirectors.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.10.08