Finding History in Traditions

By: Jamie Lee

“It takes an endless amount of history to make even a little tradition.” – Henry James

What do you think of when you hear the word tradition? Do you think of a big turkey dinner with family seated around the table, or do you remember leaving milk and cookies out for Santa?  Maybe it was some special activity you practiced to mark an event?

Traditions have a place in our life and our heart. In the system of Reiki we remember traditions to help ground us and encourage our spiritual growth. And while traditions can help us feel grounded and calm, they can have another side to them.

Recently, I read an interview with a successful businessman.  He was speaking about the downside of traditions and how they can stifle business.  He used the example of carving a pumpkin to explain how traditions can hinder our growth. Typically when we carve a pumpkin, we cut the top off and scrape the seeds out and it’s usually a very messy job. After the pumpkin is carved, we drop a candle in and attempt to light it, sometimes getting burned in the process. He asks why not break free from that tradition and cut the bottom of the pumpkin, allowing gravity to help remove the seeds and stringy part of the pumpkin. Then you can set the candle on the bottom that was cut out, light it without getting burned, and gently place the pumpkin over the candle.

So why don’t more people carve pumpkins the way he described?  Tradition, and in this case, tradition may be holding you back from an easier way of accomplishing your task. This may be true in some instances, but it’s not always the case.

A great deal of comfort can be found in traditions. I love putting up a Christmas tree but this year I almost stopped this tradition.  A friend I worked with 20 years ago had died in November.  I hadn’t seen him in over 7 years since I had moved to Las Vegas, but I was still deeply saddened by the loss and wanted to talk to someone about it. My friends that are in my day-to-day life were empathetic but they didn’t know him. Somehow, even though I love my friends, talking to them wasn’t the same as talking to someone that knew him. I felt like I had a history that people in my life knew nothing about. I felt alone.

It wasn’t until a friend of mine came over to help me put up the Christmas Tree that I realized that I did have history where I am currently living. We got the tree set up, and as I opened the box labeled Christmas decorations a peace came over me. There on top, were homemade decorations of my dogs that a friend had made for me a few years ago. She had stalked my Facebook page to find pictures of all my dogs, including one that had passed, printed them and made adorable tree decorations. I realized how much it meant to me to have a friend that would do something like that for me. She was a friend that knew what made my heart sing – my pups.

As I dug through the box, I uncovered more decorations in honor of my pets that had been given to me by my friends. Suddenly, I realized how much history I had with the people in my day-to-day life. They may not be able to share my grief over my friend that died, but they share my life today. They share a connection with me and it took a tradition to remind me of our history.