I love traditions. I love everything from the discovery of a new tradition all the way through to the ritual that has been passed down through the generations being faithfully acted out. I love the way my children count on traditions and remind me of them every year to insure that none will be left out or forgotten. Traditions make my heart feel young as I think back on the origin of a family tradition.
On the other hand I dislike habits. I don’t like being held hostage by them. I don’t like how they occur without any fore thought or care. I really dislike how they sneak up on me and can control my actions. Habits have been my enemy for many years. I find that sometimes I can have habits that I don’t even know that I have. That is how little thought goes into a habit. With my additive and compulsive personality I have danced with habits, been defeated by them and have slain them in return many times over the years.
I think there is a distinct difference between traditions and habits, but sometimes the line can be blurred. When I was a kid we spent five Thanksgivings in a row in Austria. Our tradition was to spend a solid week of skiing in the Alps. We took our dog Tora and carried out our Thanksgiving tradition. As you can see from the photo part of the ritual was to dress Tora up in his red sweater and our ski goggles to play in the snow.
At the end of each day we always went sledding down the steep slope behind our hotel. The mountain side that our hotel was perched on was extremely steep and we had to crawl back up on our hands and knees between each exhilarating sled ride. One year we discovered how to cause avalanches. We stood at the top of the slope and rode the avalanche of snow down over and over again. We had great fun and put no thought to the real danger of our avalanches. The next year when we arrived in town we learned that our ski instructor had died in an avalanche and suddenly the idea of creating even our minor avalanches didn’t sound fun any more.
In my twenties after suffering through a series of crisis’s I discovered that most of avalanches of calamity were of my own making. I was in the habit of creating crisis due to the way I was living my life. And it had all become such a habit that I was no longer aware of the fact that I was standing at the top of steep mountains and living the rush of the avalanche caused by my own reckless behavior. Don’t get me wrong life did not become crisis free after that day but it changed.
I started to make a conscious decision to determine what habits were causing my life to snowball into crisis and what traditions I wanted to live my life by. Still in little ways I see crisis habits sneaking into my life and I have to choose to break the habit rather than allow it to control me.
How about you? Have you ever noticed that you are the maker of some of your avalanches? Are you willing to admit it, change it and experience the freedom of chosen traditions. Celebrate the holidays by making traditions and breaking habits.