Tradition Versus Routine

I’m a routine kinda gal. Ask Ali. When I don’t have a good, solid routine in place, my world seems as though it’s a battleground for the Titans and Olympians – and others’ worlds are sometimes innocent casualties. What I’m trying to say here is that I’m set in my ways and don’t care to invite change if something is already working for me.

During the first Christmas season of our friendship, Ali asked about my decorating tradition. First, I didn’t realize decorating was a tradition (having been rather take-it-or-leave-it in the past). Second, there was a spark in her eyes that caused my primordial instincts to send flares of “WHITE-HOT DANGER!” straight at my flight response. I ignored my instincts and stayed put. I proudly told her that I had begun putting up a tree every year. She smiled politely, but something dark clouded out that spark. After prodding further, she found out that my Christmas tree was fake. At this, she lost her mind. I have difficulty remembering all the awful things that came from her small figure, but I’m pretty sure accusations of ruining my daughter’s life were in there somewhere. Once she found out it was prelit and I didn’t own any Christmas lights, I thought our friendship was over. Her love of Christmas was pure and true; mine was as fake as my tree.

But I was quite satisfied with my “tradition,” and up went my fake Christmas tree. I drug out the overstuffed box, turned the white tree this way and that to avoid showing the yellowed side, and went about the chore of hanging up the ornaments. I snuggled down into that cozy feeling of knowing a routine was completed. I’m sure Ali’s house was a Christmas wonder to behold. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t invited over.

One of my favorite things about Ali is her persistence. She’s a fighter, for sure – especially when she’s convinced herself that she’s right. She’s also very clever with her tactics, and last year, on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, I somehow found myself in the middle of a Christmas tree farm, laughing at the tree puns coming from the gentleman cutting down my perfect tree. We Christmas tree 2015spent twelve hours decorating our two houses, and while I may have grumbled once or twice, I had a lot of fun. I learned a lot of things that day (including the fact that tying a tree to the top of your vehicle isn’t nearly as difficult as men make it out to be) and became a believer in Ali’s Christmas cheer.

This year, again on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, we ventured out in the cold rain with three girls in tow to find our perfect Christmas trees, sip some hot cider, decorate our houses, sing “Jingle Bells” over and over, eat homemade toffee, and luxuriate in the warmth of love and friendship. I’m pretty sure we now have a tradition.

I’ve learned that there is a big difference between routine and tradition. A routine is a set of actions to be performed regularly with the end result being peace of mind. A tradition is a set of actions to be performed regularly with the end result being peace of heart. And I must say I’m quite fond of both.