by Lisa M. G. Dennis (Giggles)
I love traditions. I love the anchoring they give us. One year into our marriage I wrote a post about how we were establishing our own holiday traditions, figuring out what mattered to both of us from our families and how we were going to make it work with our new family. And I must admit that as our first anniversary approached I stressed more than one logically should about the fact that we’d get ONE shot to establish “things we do every anniversary” and spent more time than I should have trying to figure out something meaningfully significant we could do every anniversary, understanding that life would change and take us different places as the years went by. With three anniversaries under our belt, I can look back and laugh. The meaningfully significant thing we’ve done every time was something that happened without any thought at all. And I love it.
While the big traditions are fun, I like the little ones as well. I’ve been thinking about what makes something a tradition rather than a habit. While the two can be used as synonyms, they aren’t the same. One of the definitions of tradition is “a specific custom or practice of long standing.” But I don’t think my long-standing practice of flossing and then brushing my teeth before bed every night counts as a tradition. I’d never call my almost lifelong custom of eating Cheerios for breakfast a tradition. My practice of doing the dark laundry before the light laundry—not a tradition. Nor is how I fold my socks. Those are habits.
Over my many years in post-secondary school I’ve taken four classes that changed my world (surprisingly, only one had to do with my specific area of study). My last semester of my bachelor’s degree I took a folklore class. It changed how I view my community, whoever happens to be in my community at that time. One way to describe folk art is that it is taking the everyday mundane of life and making it beautiful, meaningful. It’s decorating the pot you cook in, weaving a pattern into the blanket you sleep under, pinning a flower to the hat that keeps you safe from the sun, the flourish you add when preparing the evening meal.
Our daily traditions are our folk art. Blowing a kiss at each other whenever one of us leaves the house (or at the stop sign at the end of the street if we both leave at the same time) gives meaning and beauty to departure. Saying the same phrase to each other as we turn off the light at night provides comfort and security as we go to sleep.
Our daily traditions grew out of our life over time. They weren’t handed down specifically from generations past. Who knows if our future generations will do them. But they are our traditions. They add meaning, significance, and beauty to our daily routines.
The big traditions are wonderful, and I love them. But I love the little small ones that add a touch of connection to every day.
Photo: Vivian Chen