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Posts Tagged ‘traditions’

I always used to think that traditions were something that already were and it took me some many years to realise that anyone can start a new tradition…..they don’t have to be old and well worn!

I also used to think that to be a family you had to have a Dad and a Mom and a few kids and it was only some years after my breakdown when I was having counselling that the Doctor told me in reply to a comment I made about not providing my daughter with a ‘proper’ family; he said that families come in all shapes and sizes and just coz there was no dad and only her and me did not mean that we were not a family.  That was a long time ago.

Over the last decade or so (hahaha, it’s so funny to say that), I have started a couple of traditions, and my daughter who is now all grown up has started a few of her own.

Today we met up for what I realised has become a ‘new’ ‘family’ tradition. 

Going back a bit in time, I (officially) moved to the UK in 2002 and my daughter came to visit sometime later and we both ended up loving London and staying, and now consider ourselves to be ‘Londoners’!  So we have essentially settled here and that means that our extended family, with the exception of my brother and his wife who live in Hungary, all still live in South Africa.  This means that we don’t get to see them for birthdays and family events.  Last year for the first time in ages my daughter decided that it was time to start sending birthday cards. Previously it was an adhoc affair with the occassional card being posted, birthdays generally being noted with emails and phonecalls.

This year I realised that we had in fact started a new tradition when on Sunday she said to me that it was time to buy all the birthday cards again for the family, write a message, sign and address and paste stamps – ready to go at the appropriate time. (she will do the mailing of the cards since I am rubbish at sending them off in time and some get there a few weeks after the event).

So Monday we went together to buy the first of the batch, yesterday she bought the rest of the cards and today we met up in town for tea and a ‘card signing’ ceremony.  So before the year has really even started we have already bought all 19 cards, written our respective messages, signed, addressed, stamped and mailed the first batch for the January birthdays…. the first of which is on the 7th January the rest of the birthdays spread out over the year, the last of which is on 5th November! The eldest family member will be 93 and the youngest 5!

And so a new family tradtion has been born! How cool is that. 🙂

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Today being Sunday, I am of course blogging about religion and spirituality (just because I like to be orderly). 🙂

As a child my mother used to send us to Church (Sunday school) every week.   There we got to learn about Christ and Christian principles and about God.  We also had a load of fun colouring in pictures and listening to stories, and one of my most vivid memories of Christ was of him dressed in a long pure-white robe, a long vibrant sapphire blue cloak over that, brown sandals long brown hair and a beautiful smile.   That image was portrayed in a large book my Mother had given us of Bible Stories.

As we got older and started going to grown-up Church, sometimes my Mother (or Father – depending on whom we were living with at the time) would come with us, most times not), I recall that the preacher – of whichever church was nearest at the time (we moved a lot), would stand on his pulpit and either preach about how God would punish us for various sins etc and banish us to hell, or would preach about a loving God who forgave all sins.   This confused the heck out of me and I could not relate that to the pictures I had seen in the book or the stories I had read. (I do confess I have never read the bible through, only got as far as Genesis and touched on Revelations, as well as briefly on others in between).

In the fullness of time church went out the window and religion took a back-seat to real life, and we practised what my Mother called a ‘shot-gun’ religion – church for weddings, christenings, funerals and the occasional seasonal catch up.   Although I then considered myself to be a Christian the reality was that I did not lead a Christian lifestyle.   Neither I, nor my siblings were either; Baptised, Christened or whatever.   We had conflicting experiences of how life should be lived and how life was lived – leading to total confusion.   Although I pretty much gave up on ‘religion’ per se, I was still curious and over the years I investigated, albeit briefly, different religions; touching on Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, I went to different churches: Methodist; Church of England; Catholic; and Baptist and even ventured into the world of Seventh Day Adventists.

When my daughter went to school, I sent her to a Catholic School for most of her junior years, the result of which that she has sworn off religion for life (so far).  (Actually, the Toasim venture, was unwittingly mitigated by her; through a Chinese school friend she was helping to learn English and who was teaching her Mandarin in return.)   We were totally taken with the whole experience and faithfully attended services every Friday, which lasted till they told us that cats don’t have souls!   Bearing in mind: I am a cat lover of note, had five cats at the time, one of whom had just been killed by a car that very day – bad timing).  Taosim went out the window.

On the rare occasion I have attended church since my childhood, it is usually to pray for someone else (I do believe in an Almighty God/Entity), to attend Easter Service or Christmas Eve Mass (I enjoy the carols) and for weddings, funerals, christenings and very occasionally just because I want to enjoy the spiritual environment.   Other than that I am totally taken with old churches and cathedrals and love wandering about whether they be whole or in ruins.   It is more for the aesthetic beauty than religious, and I also love the traditions.

Which brings me to spirituality.   I would consider myself to be a spiritual person; I had an amazing experience at Date With Destiny (see my book).   And I have been thinking; what is religion as opposed to spirituality and how does spirituality fit into our daily lives?   Doing some research, of course my first stop was Wikipedia and this is what I found.

Traditionally, religions have regarded spirituality as an integral aspect of religious experience and have long claimed that secular (non-religious) people cannot experience “true” spirituality. Many do still equate spirituality with religion, but declining membership of organised religions and the growth of secularism in the western world has given rise to a broader view of spirituality.

Secular spirituality carries connotations of an individual having a spiritual outlook, which is more personalized, less structured, more open to new ideas/influences, and more pluralistic than that of the doctrinal faiths of organized religions. At one end of the spectrum, even some atheists are spiritual.   While atheism tends to lean towards scepticism regarding supernatural claims and the existence of an actual “spirit”, some atheists define “spiritual” as nurturing thoughts, emotions, words and actions that are in harmony with a belief that the entire universe is, in some way, connected; even if only by the mysterious flow of cause and effect at every scale.

Some modern religions also see spirituality in everything: see pantheism and neo-Pantheism. In a similar vein, Religious Naturalism has a spiritual attitude towards the awe, majesty and mystery it sees in the natural world.

For a Christian, to refer to him or herself as “more spiritual than religious” may (but not always) imply relative deprecation of rules, rituals, and tradition while preferring an intimate relationship with God. The basis for this belief is that Jesus Christ came to free humankind from those rules, rituals, and traditions, giving humankind the ability to “walk in the spirit” thus maintaining a “Christian” lifestyle through that one-to-one relationship with God.

Interesting!   This is just a small sample of what I found.  What are your thoughts?   Of course there is much, much more on the internet and the subject could be beaten to death, however, please bear in mind that I am not decrying, deriding or slating any religion, belief or way of life, in any way – I am just voicing what is my belief and how I have experienced life.   I do not wish to be ‘converted’ and if you leave any comments kindly do so at a constructive level, respecting the fact that everyone has a different set of beliefs, values and their own model of the world and that in my opinion we are all correct in our thinking and that we all have the right to our own beliefs.   I also do not feel that any one religion or religious sect, or way of thinking or set of beliefs, is either right or wrong; it just is.   How I do wish that we could all accept that.

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I just love this story. In an age when values have become muddled,and ‘how much I received’ is more important than ‘how much I gave’, this story is an inspiration.  Perhaps at this time, it would be good to climb off the commercial merry-go-round and reassess our own values!

For the Man Who Hated Christmas
by Nancy W. Gavin

It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas–oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it–overspending… the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma—the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears.

It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids – all kids – and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition–one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there.

You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.

Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down the envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Editor’s Note: This true story was originally published in the December 14, 1982 issue of Woman’s Day magazine. It was the first place winner out of thousands of entries in the magazine’s “My Most Moving Holiday Tradition” contest in which readers were asked to share their favorite holiday tradition and the story behind it. The story inspired a family from Atlanta, Georgia to start The White Envelope Project and Giving101, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating youth about the importance of giving. To learn more about honoring a loved one through this special tradition, please visit www.Giving101.org/WhiteEnvelopeProject. On the site, you can browse a catalog of unique giving opportunities, create and send your own white envelope gift, purchase charity gift cards, and more.

sourced from:
AsAManThinketh.net

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