Last week I spent a while talking about how economic stability is the foundation of a family, and for a family that will hold together through the generations, this usually means a family business to provide that stability.
The caveat, that I didn’t mention last week is that this assumes the family business is successful. Obviously, and unsuccessful family business (like the one my grandfather tried to start) won’t provide any financial stability. And my grandfather’s business did fall prey to what may be the most common danger a family business can face — heirs who couldn’t keep the business running.
But that’s not what we’re going to talk about today. Because really, what our heirs in this generation do is out of our hands. Never mind all the future generations.
No, today we are talking about something different. If economic stability is the foundation of the family, then…
Tradition Forms the Support Structure
I know for a lot of folks these days ‘tradition’ and ‘traditional’ are dirty words. And there’s good reason for that, given the way claims of ‘tradition’ have been used to attack or exclude many of us in recent decades.
But tradition is like a knife. It is first and foremost a tool to help people.
Tradition is what creates culture. And this is true whether we are talking about a family, a religion, a fandom, or a country. Culture is critical to the survival of any social instutition. Culture creates a sense of belonging. Culture is also what creates non-economic value. My words are failing, but hopefully you get what i mean. There is value to art forms, sports, holidays, etc, that is completely separate from whether or not someone has managed to commercialize them. That those things are all part of culture.
Why do we play baseball and (American) football in the US, but soccer is the big game in the UK? Culture.
Why different cuisines in New Orleans and Maine? Culture.
Why Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC? Culture.
Culture, which is created by tradition. After all, Maine and New Orleans both have seafood heavy diets, there’s no practical reason why their cuisine would be so different today. But they each developed separate traditions based on the available spices, needs of the people living there, and ideas brought in from other cultures. Those traditions became embedded in the cultures of those regions and they continue today.
Evolution vs Creation
Of course those traditions (and cultures) evolved naturally over time. No one set out to create them.
A family can evolve traditions as well. But bringing multiple people who have different backgrounds and personal and/or family traditions from other families can easily cause conflict. So I prefer to intentionally create our traditions.
For instance, there are some holidays that I really want to be part of our traditions. So I put together a short write up on what those holidays are, why they are meaningful for me, and why I think they can be meaningful for everyone in our household even though most of them are Jewish holy days and only I and Michael are/will be converting to Judaism.
And I asked everyone else to share if they have any holidays that want to make part of our family traditions. The risk here was that we would end up with too many holidays to feasibly observe. Everyone agreed with my holiday suggestions, and only one other holiday was put forth. Halloween.
So, yeah. Fall is going to be an… ah… interesting, not to say intense season in our home. What with Rosh haShana, Sukkot, and Halloween back to back (or sometimes overlapping).
Of course, there are more to family traditions than holidays. But holidays are a good place to start. Especially since we can (sometimes) share them now, while we work up to being able to live together.