A love of tradition has never weakened a nation (Winston Churchill)

Deb Runs

And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition!
–Fiddler on the Roof

I’m not sure that the quote above has anything to do with what I’m going to write about, but when I hear the word “tradition”, the first thing that pops into my mind is Fiddler on the Roof.

The other funny thing about that quote above is that I’m all about trying new things: if I didn’t, I would never have started to cook, to bake, to paint, to knit, to do yoga, and, of course, run.

Sometimes, I am too scared to try new things, I’ll admit it. Tough mudders. Spartan. I’m not really sure I’m scared, so much, as they just don’t sound appealing to me.

I once bought rowing lessons and only did about half the class. I did try it. It always looked so cool, to be rowing on Town Lake. I found it to be scary, though. I haven’t yet tried kayaking or SUP, either, even though I want to.

Unlike most of you, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is my time to breathe a sigh of relief. Serious running is over. There might be a holiday party or two, and then again, there might not.

Hannukah is not a very important holiday on the Jewish calendar, even though most Christians assume that it is because of its proximity to Christmas.

Our Hannukah traditions are simple: we do light the menorah each night. I sing the blessing over the candles the first and last night, and usually just say it the rest of the nights.

The menorah we use is a simple plastic one that I was gifted from the Temple for singing in junior choir until I graduated high school, so it has great sentimental value to me. The choir director is still alive, but she’s even older than my parents and quite frail. Her husband, the rabbi who married us, has been gone many years now.

We exchange small gifts, but rarely one every night. One of my husband’s hobbies is photography, and the very first year we were married I gave him an Ansel Adams wall calendar. And 30 years later, it’s become a tradition. He expects it, of course, but I always switch up which night I give it to him.

We almost always (but not always) have potato latkes (pancakes) at some point during the week. Sometimes we make them, but quite frankly it’s a chore, so more often I buy some.

And my last tradition in the holiday season, which has nothing to do with Hannukah, is running Last Run. It starts in downtown Albany with fireworks, and then you run through the lights in Washington Park. Even this Jew enjoys that.

Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.
— W. Somerset Maugham

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

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26 thoughts on “A love of tradition has never weakened a nation (Winston Churchill)

  1. What a great post. Christmas in our family is all about tradition, which is something we love about it. One of our traditions is that we save our Christmas cards as they arrive in the mail and then open them together at dinner. Last Run sounds wonderful!

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  2. This might sound odd to you, but this time of year, I envy non-Christmas celebrators. Christmas has gotten so over the top–the gift exchanging alone is ridiculous. I’m already overwhelmed. That’s why I didn’t write about it. I’m so grateful for my runs because it’s the one thing that keeps me sane.

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  3. Latkes and lighting the menorah….in that order 😉 Even growing up, we never got 8 gifts but I remember kids who did. My mom said that you could get 8 crappy presents or one relatively nice one.

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    1. I’m not sure I can remember ANY of the gifts I got growing up. I’m pretty sure we didn’t get 8.

      I do remember one time when my sister was displeasing my parents somehow and they refused to give out any presents. It seemed so unfair, but it’s not like I remember what the heck I got anyway!

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  4. I’m with Wendy! Christmas is nothing but commercialism for many, many people. I do enjoy looking at Christmas lights, making treats with my kids, and spending time with family. But the gift exchange part is…horrible. I give my husband a box of Whitman’s chocolates every year. At least that is easy shopping!

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  5. Great minds think alike. Growing up we never got presents each night. We got them all on the weekend. But my first hubby did get me gifts for each of the 8 nights (He thought he was supposed to.) now i just light the candles cuz it’s a tradition. I love Christmas – the lights and decorating and shopping for gifts. But the kids are grown so now it’s kinda boring – just gift cards. My hubby hates the holidays and shopping. I have to have the holiday spirit for both of us.

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  6. Here’s another who agrees with Wendy.

    Back when we were kids [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbU4Cb4A4-o], the only time you “got” anything was Christmas or your birthday, so it was special. You waited, and the anticipation make the receiving all the better. Small gifts mattered. I remember getting my Dad a “book” of Lifesavers of Old Spice. Which I chose and paid for myself. We each received a “Box of 64s” and bathrobes. Our stockings were filled, not with expensive items “suggested” by marketers, but oranges and nuts in the shell, erasers, and little goodies.

    Today, you want something, you buy it, so what’s the big deal about yet more stuff on December 25?

    I go out of my mind trying to come up with ideas for Christmas gifts. More stuff for people who have everything. I find it depressing. I’m decorated out. I’m even done with Christmas music The only thing I like is having family over for Christmas dinner and going to their house for the Italian Feast of Seven Fishes. I do love tradition.
    I’m not a Grinch, just tired of “over the top.” Simplify. Simplify.
    Nostalgia might make our memories seem better than they were, but I don’t think so.

    I need to go out for a run!

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    1. You’re so right — I pretty much do just get what I want, when I want it & so does my husband. Every once in a while I surprise him with something he really likes, but it’s hard.

      I don’t mind a little Christmas music; I used to go charoling with friends when I was a girl. My station turns to all Christmas music before Thanksgiving, though & I have to switch radio stations!

      And please don’t think you need to get me something because I sent you the medal. I just thought it was so appropriate for you, and I have plenty of medals — and I know that they make me smile. I hope yours makes you smile now. 🙂

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      1. It sure does.
        I treasure it and always will.
        And it will be on display at this weekend’s RI Author’s Expo with photos of my major runs.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy Hanukkah to you! I thought of Tevye when I thought about “Tradition,” and I love your take on traditions being there for you as a guide, but not as a jail. My MIL is about as tradition-laden at Christmas as you can get (with the same thing for Christmas Eve dinner and for Christmas breakfast, etc) but even she has modified things as we’ve all gotten older (and when her gluten-free diet interfered with a lot of traditional favorites!).

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    1. I used to make these things that were kind of a cross between muffins and scones for Thanksgiving for years.

      I really like them, but they’re kind of fat and sugar laden and a bit labor intensive so I’ve let them go the last couple of years. Maybe again sometime in the future. My husband really likes them.

      They became a tradition simply because I tried them one year and we both really liked them! Aren’t those the best traditions?

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  8. I LOVE reading about other family’s traditions!!!! My best friend from college is Jewish, and she has shared so much of the history and rituals with me. She was one of my bridesmaids…and she showed me a grand time at her wedding! My favorite thing this time of the year is getting the holiday cards from friends and family. Of course, now days with social media, I see a lot of their stuff year-round, but it’s fun getting tangible stuff in the mail box 😉

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  9. I love reading how different people celebrate different holidays. Gift giving for the hubby is a pain I will admit, it gets harder and harder ever year! I love seeing everyone’s holiday photos too- all dressed up! Enjoy your holiday season!

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  10. Nice!!

    Potato latkes -yum! Do you use a specific recipe? When I was a teacher and we celebrated the festival of lights (all the festive holidays in the winter), we always make latkes but they were never that good-ha!

    The Last Run sounds fun…and with fireworks!

    Building traditions with the kiddies…I hope they like them and enjoy them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I don’t really have a specific recipe. Mostly it’s just shredded potatoes & onion, a bit of flour, and fry em in oil. But you do have to squeeze the water out of them. It’s just time consuming (not to mention fattening).

      Last Run is fun . . . even the year it was snowing.

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  11. Last year I organized a Christmas lights run one evening for my MRTT chapter. We ran through one of our neighborhoods that has great light displays. It was so fun that we’re doing it again this year.

    As always, thanks for linking up!

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  12. The first thing that popped up in my mind when I heard the word tradition was Fiddler on the Roof, too! Speaking of which, did you happen to see the Fiddler on the Roof Broadway performance during the Macy’s Day Parade? It was good.

    I don’t know a whole lot Hannukah, other than the basics, so I liked reading about your holiday traditions. I have certain holiday decorations that are similar to your menorah in that they may be simple, but they have a lot of sentimental value. That’s most important to me! My dad used to make us potato pancakes for dinner occasionally when we were kids and I loved them. They’ve very tasty! I hope that y’all have a happy Hannukah!

    That Last Run sounds like a lot of fun!

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    1. No, basically I didn’t see the parade at all because I was out racing, then foam rolling, then showering, then dressing . . . didn’t get to see the dog show either. 😦

      I guess if I want to see all that stuff I need to not race. Oh well!

      Latkes are great. I bought some at Whole Foods today to make Sunday. Much easier that way.

      Only problem is they’re pretty fattening and Sunday is a rest day!

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