The Non-Traditional Tradition

Last week’s piece was called The Cleveland Tradition: Year 2.  About a month prior, the piece was called The Greatest Race in the Greatest Place: Volume 2.  Previous to that, I wrote about the 3rd annual fall mountain trip with my family and my sister’s family.  And previous to that, I wrote about the 2nd golf go-round with my boys from Alabama, Wyoming (MIA this year and this year only), and Iowa. 

A130208D-BF5A-4119-8F15-615AAC568FF4Having said all that, I am not a tradition guy, which shouldn’t be surprising coming from someone who wrote “Variety is the Spice of Life”.  Well, let me rephrase that.  If a tradition evokes meaning, emotion, excitement, etc., let’s do it.  If it is tradition just for tradition sake, I have a hard time with it.  It’s the perfect time of year to think about this because the holiday season is Tradition Central.  What are yours?  Are they awesome? Have some lost their luster?

EEC0E35C-BAB2-45D9-B7B9-FEEA1B3C24BAWhen people have kids, I notice that the traditions start to shift.  Many people want their children to wake up at their own house to Santa Claus, which I respect immensely.  I have fond memories of that as a child myself.  So it made me wonder, does it make sense to review your traditions during the rest of the year? And I’ll be damn, I’ve already been doing it (refer to paragraph 1).

One of the key taglines of abk is “Own your life story.”  It’s hard to do that when you are borrowing traditions from the past that may not be relevant anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, many traditions are awesome and should stay.  Many, even if you don’t personally love them, should be respected.  But you have to fuel you.  You know, these unique things that are specific to you, your family, and friends that others might not understand, but who cares?

IMG_4242Like an annual trip to Cleveland in December.  Check.  Like an annual running of the NYC Marathon (health permitting).  Check.  Like an annual mountain trip with my sister and her family.  Check.  Like annual golf shenanigans with the boys all over the US.  Check. These, my friends, take real, active effort.  Sometimes fitting a square peg in a round hole. But these, my friends, are 4 of my absolute favorite things I now do every year.

I am excited about making more.  Until recently, my extended family did an annual family beach week at different beaches in the Southeast US.  Maybe that will return.  Christy and I have taken Banks to 11 different states in his young life.  Maybe we will ensure he sees 3-5 new places each year.  I thoroughly enjoy being involved and raising money every year now for The Arthritis Foundation and One Day One Dog, the annual fundraising day for Wingate University.  And I love playing Cards Against Humanity at Christmas time, laughing hysterically and learning how different people’s minds work. 

It can be simple stuff. Maybe it is church on Christmas Eve?  Maybe it is an annual trip with the girls?  An annual trip with the boys?  An annual personal challenge?  Bucket list stuff?  Visiting your parents monthly or quarterly?  I could go on and on and on.

C9E18DEC-DCFE-4607-942E-304EAE9F048D“Life can get in the way”, but it doesn’t have to.  These things that are important to you and your loved ones? Re-focus. Don’t be afraid to start a new tradition today.  Don’t be embarrassed if it is something not mainstream like going to Cleveland in December as those can be some of the best.5D3AE3F9-8339-420E-91BA-2BADC263D71D

I am well aware that these new traditions I have helped start or am a part of recently will likely evolve in the future. But that’s okay. I just never want to get to where I am doing something to satisfy the word “tradition”, and it has just become same ole, same ole. 

B8D2E974-C4E9-4F0E-BD58-D96435FD7743Right on cue, Christy and I took Banks to PF Chang’s for a Christmas dinner tonight. One of Christy’s traditions that she introduced years ago was that after any Asian meal, we open fortune cookies from oldest to youngest and read to everyone. So I read mine, which was nothing special, and then she read hers, which was the same. And finally it was Banks turn, who as a reminder, is 3 years old. His read, “This month, your financial risks will payoff.”  I was a couple of sangrias deep, and I just busted out laughing. 

As usual, I learned something. It is important to actively own your life story, but also to keep an open mind to others’ stories and traditions. Because they might just make your night. 

Have a great week.- Benj

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