Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blankets or Chains of Tradition

Last night was the "traditional" gathering of J.R. and K.M at a Reds game.  This year we switched from the weekday afternoon game tradition to an evening event.  It all started fourteen years ago (when we were worked at Accenture) when J.R. offered up tickets one evening and I pressured K.M. into joining us.  So it was fitting that we "honored" the original genesis of the tradition by duplicating an evening venue.

Traditions can emerge innocently after one notices a consistent pattern each year, or they can be deliberate (like  scheduling one Reds game each year  or our March Madness lunches) based on an event or key annual activity.  How many years or repetitiveness is necessary to call an activity a "tradition".  I think somewhere between five and ten years of consecutive occurrences begins to qualify the occasion as "tradition".   

Sports events can generate the regularity and comfortable common platform that fits well with establishing a tradition.  Hence the excitement of tailgating, and congregating with friends at games.  Holidays and family gatherings almost automatically are considered "traditions".

The Tennis Tournament here in Cincinnati was a tradition in my life for over 30 years. Last week I didn't attend even one match and only watched the first set of the Nadal/Isner final on TV.  Somehow that tradition had worn its way out.  The extra cost of the box seats helped me see the "chains" of that tradition and created a cost/value equation to its benefit.

Traditions create a sense of security and joy - like a blanket and yet can turn into "chains" of duty and boring habit.  Ascertaining the difference is what counts.  Breaking traditions is hard to do.

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