The New Year holiday period has just ended, typically signaling a time for a fresh outlook on life; making minor tweaks and/or major adjustments to our daily rituals. In the 2 1/2 years Iâ€™ve been composing The 50 Plus Male blog, Iâ€™ve always skipped to fresh subject matter with each posting. So, to slightly â€śshake the tree,â€ť and do something a bit different, this monthâ€™s dialogue will tie-in with our most recent article, â€śSense and Sensibilities.â€ť
While that article delved into my harsh feelings toward the blatant commercialization of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, you also got a glimpse into how much I truly treasure the meaning behind the day. A number of years ago, I noticed that my family had fallen into a pattern whereby a given holiday was annually hosted by the same person. I made a pronouncement that we had unwittingly started a â€śtradition,â€ť with this unintended scheduling, so why not make it permanent? We have done so and my wife and I have always served as Thanksgiving hosts in the ensuing years. Quite frankly, a pair of pliers on steroids couldnâ€™t pry away celebrating this holiday at our home, as my reverence for Thanksgiving far exceeds that of any other holiday.
In my younger days, I didnâ€™t feel this way; one holiday morphed into the next without giving any special thought to its underlying purpose. As Iâ€™ve aged, however, my perceptions have naturally changed (for the better), and without â€ścutting things too thinâ€ť with my vernacular, the difference between doing something out of habit, versus the desire to do so due to tradition has illuminated. I think Iâ€™ve figured out why this has happened with me: the aging process is continually increasing my respect for personal emotionsâ€¦
Let me provide two examples for you. In December 2010, I told Ed, my best friend of over 40 years, that my wife and I would not be joining â€śthe gangâ€ť for our traditional (thereâ€™s that word again) New Yearâ€™s Eve dinner at a local French restaurant, an establishment with exceptional fare cooked by a world-renowned chef many of us have befriended. The reason was simple; we just didnâ€™t want to spend the money, given how tight our finances were at the time. The next day, we had an unannounced visit from Ed and it didnâ€™t take â€śan Einsteinâ€ť to determine his reasoning. He literally pleaded with us to change our minds; the tradition of our crowd celebrating the New Year together was unbroken for all these many years; and his eyes literally began to fill-up with tears when he underscored how much this meant to him. If ever the delineation between â€śhabitâ€ť versus â€śtraditionâ€ť needed clarifying, it had just occurred. Needless to say, my wife and I immediately relented and once again joined our friends for our yearly celebration.
The second example just happened two weeks ago on Christmas Day. My wife and I have grown to appreciate the simple things when it comes to gifts from one another. Over the many years of our marriage, habit has evolved into tradition when I buy her stocking-stuffer gifts. They are always either a Christmas tree ornament and/or a holiday ornament for our fireplace hearth. Sound too mundane for you? Look into my wifeâ€™s eyes as she opens these gifts; Iâ€™m choking-up now with visions of her appreciative expression and gratitudeâ€¦this seemingly innocuous tradition holds that much meaning for both of us.
Donâ€™t sit there thinking Iâ€™m getting soft in my old age; as someone with a somewhat too-steely inner resolve, itâ€™s a comfort knowing traditions are gradually melting away my edges.