My two daughters were cast in, "Fiddler on the Roof," for the fall 2007 musical. It was an amazing production. Our high school program is extraordinary when it comes to theater productions and my kids have been very lucky to be able to participate in such an outstanding program. Tradition is the underlying theme in "Fiddler" and it explores how one man deals with daughters who no longer wish to adhere to their long established traditions. It's a powerful play.
We have many family traditions during this time of year. One of those is to decorate our tree the day after Thanksgiving. When I was a child, living with my grandparents, Grandma pulled out boxes and boxes of decorations the day after Thanksgiving and we decorated the house and the store-bought tree. We spent the entire day getting ready for Christmas. Grandma loved, loved, loved, Christmas and she went all out. She bought gifts all year long and was more excited than we were for us to open the gifts she'd purchased.
I never even considered the idea that others didn't decorate the way we did until I got married. My husband and his family actually trudged through the wilderness to pick out and then cut down their Christmas tree. They decorated for Christmas well into December and celebrated a more Christ-centered Christmas.
My husband and I both had traditions coming into our marriage. We compromised. Even though I had never met anyone who cut down their tree, we decided to adopt that tradition along with my family's tradition of decorating the day after Thanksgiving.
We've spent hours and hours in the mountains following my husband's search for just the right tree. You know, the one where the light shines down upon the tree and choruses of angels sing in the background. I've carried small babies, drug toddlers by my side, and picked up small children who couldn't hike one more step. Usually, the tree we (translate: my husband) find(s) is at least 3 miles from our vehicle so dragging it back to load it is always an adventure. Of course, our best, albeit unintentional, tradition is to drive into our garage with said tree on top of the vehicle and wedging the tree between the roof of the car and the garage door. Even when we've specifically talked about not driving into the garage with the tree still on top, we've still managed to do it.
A few years back, a beetle infested evergreen trees in our area. The beetles and the severe drought we encountered for several years both combined to destroy about 2/3 of the trees in our region. We have very few trees left on our property. We decided at that time that we just couldn't bring ourselves to cut down a live tree when so many had perished, so we purchased an artificial tree.
Our artificial tree is very nice, but it's not the same. It doesn't smell like a Christmas tree should and though it is pretty, it doesn't look like a real tree, either. So we've adapted our tradition of cutting down a tree. We did still decorate the day after Thanksgiving (no black Friday for me) and have continued our other traditions.
Another tradition is to wrap and place all the gifts under the tree soon after it's been decorated. I've wrapped presents like a madwoman over the last several days and they're all finally placed under the tree. My kids have squeezed, shaken, and otherwise tried to analyze each wrapped gift--one of their traditions. Every day the gifts are all in different places. (This year, I might have outsmarted them because all the gifts that might be "obvious" from their wrapping, I've saved and won't put out until late Christmas Eve--that may become my new tradition).
This time of year is filled with traditions. But like Tevye in, "Fiddler," I guess I'll have to be open to adjusting some of my traditions.
The best traditions we have, though, are those that remember the One who initiated the celebration. Without the Savior, not only would Christmas be meaningless but so would life.