Cut back 35 years to a rousing chorus of “Tradition,” I was young then and didn’t yet understand.

Cut back again 7 years to an not yet eighteen year old boy complaining his parents had broken tradition by not celebrating his birthday in the Grand Floridian Cafe. Time made me understand what the almost man child meant.

People once build their lives around tradition–be it ethnic, patriotic, religious, or just plain personal habit. The platka we broke at our Christmas gathering, the turkey gorged in stuffing, the homemade cranberries and applesauce were highlights of the meal we shared year after year. Midnight mass, the nativity creche, Christmas carols told us it was time to celebrate. Filled stockings, new clothes, presents under the tree showed how good we were. The lights on the live pine tree twinkling brightened things as we counted blessings not disappointment.

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