I am a traditions kind of guy. I like traditions of all kinds. Growing up, I liked holidays when we did the same things as we had done the year before. I liked the same foods on the table at Thanksgiving, the same ornaments and decorations at Christmas, the same church play of the nativity (I was Gabriel!), the same gatherings of family for all the holidays. In fact, I would probably be the guy singing that song in "Fiddler on the Roof."
"Tradition! Tradition! Tradition!"But I also discovered as I grew older that traditions change or fall by the wayside. Things at Christmas change as little kids become bigger kids and then teenagers. Family gatherings change as people marry and have children. Traditions become merged when you begin your own household. Traditions change.
But one holiday that maintained for me has been Thanksgiving. I may not still gather at my grandparents' house with all my cousins, but I still gather with family and often have the same types of foods - even if it's just two of us. However, this year we had a completely untraditional Thanksgiving. I sat in a hospital room with Cindy and my mother. We ate turkey and dressing made by the hospital kitchen. (It was tasty but the dressing was definitely not the traditional dressing I like.) We did have the traditional nap after eating; we all dozed in the quiet room.
Yes, traditions are important and comforting. But what I learned this year is that the important thing is relationships. (Of course I knew that but it was important to be reminded.) Our Thanksgiving may have been untraditional but I was with my mother; she had put aside her own everyday life to be with us for a couple of weeks. I was with Cindy - and that's something I cannot take for granted after this past month. She was eating regular food, on her own, smiling at me, talking with me. I am truly thankful.
So often I forget to be thankful, to truly thank God for what I have each day. But the unexpected things this month - both the unexpected health crisis and the unexpected blessings that have been given to us - make me realize that God gives me undeserved and unlimited grace each and every day. I should make it a regular practice (tradition??) to give Him thanks and praise.
God is good all the time. And all I do and say should be to His glory.
I hope that eating turkey in a hospital room does not become a new tradition for us. But I hope I will be as thankful to God each Thanksgiving - and each day - as I felt when I looked at my wife's face on this particular Thanksgiving.