Traditional Essay

With Christmas comes a lot of traditions. One very traditional newspaper (The Wall Street Journal) has a traditional editorial they run on Christmas. A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Vermont C. Royster wrote it in 1949, and it is a good one.

It’s easy to insist on traditions at this holiday time. It is meant to tie us to our past, remind us of who and where we came from, and so the people who we came from influence us.

The songs we sing and the pies we make–Ham or turkey? These questions are already answered. We could make a different choice, but it is not breaking new ground.

We came from traditions, but then again, we have to take those traditions forward in a way that makes sense with the present.

We cannot completely clone the holiday experience we were given. If we are to hand it on to our children, it takes new people to move into the future. To procreate requires another person, and then those people thus created flavor the holiday experience too.

But that’s not even addressing the dead moose in the room:

Maybe we don’t want to recreate our traditions. Maybe they were not at all what we’d like and we want to go in an opposite direction. Not all traditions should be perpetuated.

Vermont C. Royster, the journalist who wrote the Christmas (and thanksgiving!) essay for the Wall Street Journal decades ago, was bequeathed a family tradition. His full name is Vermont Connecticut Royster. In his family, male children were traditionally given the name of two states to live with.

His uncles were named Arkansas Delaware, Wisconsin Illinois, Oregon Minnesota, and Iowa Michigan Royster. Really.

He himself had daughters, and named them Frances and Eleanor. He left that tradition behind.

It’s okay to do new things. To make a different choice.

Bringing in close friends has it’s own name now–chosen family. People who have been close and supportive who have become as close or closer than family–that is chosen family.

Despite the weight of tradition, I still get to choose. I can choose which traditions to keep and which to drop. I even get to choose the people I celebrate those traditions with. Peace and Joy are the point.

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