Why everyone needs tradition.

I was blown away by a comment my five year old son made while we were on our summer vacation. He said, "Dad, it's Monday! What kind of game are we going to do tonight as a family? After all, it is a tradition! "

After getting over the shock of him even knowing what day it was while we were on a vacation, I was SO glad to hear those words coming out of his mouth. Here my five year old son was wanting to safeguard a family tradition even though we were in a different place and on a weird schedule.

I grew up underestimating the power of healthy traditions. What I think most people, especially in the Christian community, are wanting to steer clear from is actually traditionalism, not tradition.



Tradition is a beautiful thing that can bring life,   while traditionalism is ugly and has no life to give.  Jaroslav Pelikan said it better than I ever could, "Tradition  is the living faith of the dead.Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living."                                                                                    

Everyone needs some good tradition in their life. 

Yesterday I ate lunch at a local diner. While I was talking with a friend one of the waitresses jumped into our conversation and asked me if our church was doing anything for Christmas Eve at Elim Gospel Church. I told her we had lots of cool things happening...horse drawn wagon rides, hot chocolate, a live nativity scene with all kinds of animals, a special creative program, etc. Her response was, "Will you sing Christmas carols and will there be candle lighting?" I answered "yes" to both but was taken back by how much comfort certain traditions bring to people. In the past I would have thought, "Lady, get free from all of that traditional bondage!" Yet, now I'm coming to see how powerful, life-giving and comforting tradition can be.

Our family has plenty of growing traditions (thanks to my amazing wife!):

    • Every Monday night is a family game night. We alternate who gets to choose the game. Whatever is picked is what all four of us will do after dinner and before bed time.
    • Every year we allow our boys to open one gift on Christmas Eve, even though they already know that it's going to be a new pair of pajamas:)
    • Every summer we make sure to get them to the ocean off the coast of Rhode Island. Why? Because I grew up loving that same beach and wanting to install that love into our boys.

Healthy traditions can help us:

          • Impart a sense of identity and belonging
          • Provide comfort and security
          • Help navigate seasons of change
          • Teach values
          • Pass on ethnic or religious heritages
          • Keep alive the memory of departed family members
          • Generate awesome memories

So take some time to really enjoy your Holiday traditions this year. Maybe it's time to intentionally start some new ones. Either way, steering clear of traditionalism doesn't mean you shouldn't safeguard tradition!

Leave a comment:

  • What are some of your family's favorite traditions?