The Conditions of Traditions


Who can say that word without the burly voice of Tevye in their head, right?

“Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as the fiddler on the roof.”

This classic tale is the ultimate example of the generation gap. The older generation fighting to hold onto the old ways while the younger generation fights to explore new ideas.

Traditions can be conflicting. Reasoning like Tevye, “On one hand,” they do establish stability and create endearing memories. “On the other hand,” if we continue traditions past their purpose they can perpetuate drudgery and resentment. This age-old conflict came to our family village this Thanksgiving. One side of the family has celebrated Thanksgiving a specific way for thirty years. We gather at the same house and the family matriarchs serve their same specialty dishes every year, whether anyone likes mincemeat pie or not. The table is set for thirty-something people with the same set of fancy dishes purchased especially for Thanksgiving because, “You don’t eat Thanksgiving dinner with paper and plastic!” After dinner, the men park in front of the tube to bloat and watch football while the women clean up.

Yeah, some traditions could definitely use a revamp.

This year, I had the audacity to buck the system and suggest a change of venue. My son had a soccer tournament in St. George over the holiday weekend and the usual Thanksgiving locale was in the opposite direction we needed to go. We also had a new baby born into the family a week ago making traveling a challenge for that family, so I suggested we move our celebration to a relative’s home that’s on the way south for us and just a few miles from the newbie parents so they could pop over for whatever they felt up for.


“The world is changing, Papa,” says Chava.

It’s time to evolve with the needs of our changing family.

Though it was a struggle for the old guard, everyone eventually conceded. It was a big deal because changing the location changed everything else about the holiday traditions since the new hostess made assignments differently than in years past. She wanted to try different recipes and involve the younger generation.

I was totally behind her, “You go, girl!”

She assigned me pies.

Yay! I’ve been waiting for years to introduce these people to the magical properties of chocolate.

My daughter was assigned table settings. Despite the offer to pilgrimage The Thanksgiving Dishes to the new location, my daughter declined because she was excited to contribute her own flair, which was stylish paper and plastic.

Yes! Let’s grow people! Let’s try new things! Let’s not spend the whole afternoon at the sink!

My daughter and I spent a lovely afternoon choosing a table ensemble that was both beautiful and disposable.

All the way over the river and through the woods to someone else’s house we went, I excitedly relished in the opportunity to prove that change is good . . . until we got off the exit to our destination and I realized we’d left the bags of modern tableware at home.

In the words of Tevye, “As the good book says, if you spit in the air, it lands in your face.”

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