Traditionally Non-Traditional

“Oh yes, I forget you like to toss out every tradition just because it’s a tradition.”

My boyfriend said this to me. In the context of our conversation, it kind of hurt because it told me he didn’t care about my opinion. But he’s more traditional, so maybe I hurt him too when I wanted to cast out all traditions.

So let’s talk about tradition. Where does it stem from? The first traditions recorded were predominantly religious. The traditions laid down were very specific, they were important, they held strong meaning so that people wouldn’t forget the sacrifices and gifts that literally saved their lives. 

So we can safely assume tradition can be important. 

Now let’s talk about your average family tradition. Holidays. Weddings. Funerals. Three things that literally define our lives in the eyes of our families. 

Our parents and grandparents hold onto these traditions to the extent that they will make their child/grandchild’s life miserable if they do not consent to these traditions. In some cases, they will ostracize the family member in question. Incredible. But scarily true. 

Here’s my take: why should I care about a tradition, a habit, or idiosyncratic pattern that does not affect my life or quality thereof? For holidays, why do I need to decorate? For weddings, why can’t I have a private wedding? For funerals, why do I need to spend money when I’ll be dead and won’t give a damn?  

What if I wanted to make my own traditions? What if I didn’t want to be tied down by an obligatory task which I personally do not particularly enjoy and which taxes me every time I have to do it? What if I don’t have time for such patterns of tradition? 

My boyfriend has, on occasion, gone so far as to credit my mother to my disinterest in traditions – comments which I found deeply offensive since he was insulting my mother. I will get him for that. 

But some of what he said is true. One year she told us if we wanted a Christmas tree, we had to set it up and decorate it ourselves (we’ve only had artificial trees.) But Mom raised, educated, cooked, and cleaned for five kids. Holidays were more stressful than enjoyable for her. So I utterly respect her ultimatum. Besides, it taught me how to replace ornament light bulbs (and how to appreciate string lights with bulbs which are NOT all connected.)

Thank you for putting up with all my griping. There are some (a few,  slight) positives (of no consequence) to traditions. Traditions ensure consistency within the family. Rather than coming up with a new plan for every holiday (wedding, funeral), the family already knows what is supposed to happen and what their individual obligations are. There’s a level of comfort with knowing what will happen. Much of our lives is a mystery, so a little reliability is appreciated. 

What’s more, family traditions, like religious ones, ensure memories are retained. It’s the reason we never throw out the dorky ornaments, because they signify our children’s accomplishments in school, or why we keep making the disgusting cranberry and cottage cheese jello, because it was our great-grandma’s recipe and reminds us of our English heritage and Thanksgivings with Gma. We sing Amazing Grace at funerals because it brings us comfort knowing our loved ones are safe in the great beyond. We invite everyone and their mother to our weddings because we want to share the joy of a son or daughter marrying the love of their life. 

Traditions carry meaning. Even if we think they are stupid or a waste of time. Traditions mean something different for everyone. We as humans attach emotions to memories. Those emotions are important, and it is important not to step on someone’s feelings because of our non-traditional pride. 

What traditions can you not live without? What have you given up or created for yourself? I’d love to hear about them. 

Now, excuse me while I go collect my non-traditional pride which I put away in the lockbox so I could write this post. 

This has been, 

Fanny T. Crispin


The Simple Solution

Maybe I’m just a thickhead who can’t grasp common concepts. Maybe I’m too much of a dunce to comprehend solutions. I honestly don’t know. I do know my cognitive thinking brain works slower than average. It’s likely the reason I’m a lost cause when it concerns mathematics. Even my reading comprehension is slow, and I read at a more leisure pace than my fellow readers. School was hard for me, because I didn’t “catch on” fast enough, and it was such a daily struggle.

So when asked the question “If you died tonight, do you know for a fact you’d go to heaven?” I was a total wreck. For years. I was terrified I had the wrong answer, or as in my case, no answer at all. The funny thing is, I grew up in the church, in a religious household, going to Sunday school and church all my life. All my friends and siblings were getting baptize in faith but I kept holding off because I was too scared that when posed the question “What must you do to be saved?” I wouldn’t have an answer to give. In fact, it wasn’t until my teenage years before I finally began to grasp what it meant to be a Christian.

Actually, I’m still figuring that out. 

The silly thing is, had I been told these very simple and easy to follow instructions, I would have been a more confident woman growing up. 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom He has sent.”

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes unto the Father except by me.”

-Jesus Christ

I think Jesus did a tremendous job making it as simple as possible, and people got in the way with their rules and religion. I don’t question whether I’m “saved” or not. I know I am. It’s nothing to boast about, because I didn’t get here by being a good person or doing a lot of good things. The miracle of the love of God is grace. And that grace is a gift.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

And it really is just that simple. I wish I grasped this concept a long time ago, but I feel I appreciate it more after going through the struggle. 

So here’s the writing reference (why yes, everything relates to writing. This is an educational blog!): Write simple. You may think that a long and arduous explanation will help the readers. Here’s the kicker: it won’t. You’re not trying to confuse them, obviously, you’re trying to share something wonderful from your heart and your imagination. Even though Jesus was sharing the greatest thing that ever hit the world – the key to ever lasting life and salvation – he kept it simple. “Believe in me.”

Hey, believe in yourself too. So keep it simple, keep it understandable, and keep writing. You know, even Stephen King has something to say about excessive wordy-ness. He says “don’t.” Speaking of believe…I believe in myself. Even if I am a thickhead, I wrote and published three books and have maintained a blog for three years. Booya.

That’s all I have for today, folks. Until next time. 

This has been, 

Fanny T. Crispin