Tag: traditions

As Above, So Below (as it applies to micro and macro traditions)

frozen morellos

I got 2 small jars of sour cherry jam from this year’s Morello cherry crop on our little tree. I used half of it for the vanilla custard and sour cherry tarts I made for my mom’s birthday.20151127_205926The other jar I have been eating on toast. It’s so good I’m going to plant another Morello tree in our yard. They’re naturally small trees and a very old variety from England. I’ve grown Montmorency cherries too (the American sour cherry standard) and while they’re very tasty, they just aren’t as amazing as Morellos.

Weather-wise I’ve been super happy lately. Night time temperatures have dipped down to the low 30’s (cold for us here) and we’ve gotten a decent amount of rain with (supposedly) more to come. Grey skies, cold temps, rain – this is my kind of weather and if I wasn’t fighting off a virus right now I would feel so energized by it.

The virus I’m fighting off might not be a virus so much as customer service related exhaustion. If you have ever had a retail and/or wholesale customer service job during the holidays where everyone you talk to wants something last week but didn’t bother ordering it last week and you’re now the target of their stress and ire – then I hope to God you are an angel of lightness, politeness, and patience when you’re doing your own holiday shopping and I hope to God you’re not asking anyone to perform miracles with the space-time continuum.

I feel so fried right now. It’s okay, in a week I’m going to have a week and a half off.

In spite of being gainfully employed, we are working with a very tight Christmas budget and not able to fix our car, possibly for another month and a half, so I’m feeling that dreaded familiar financial strain and light panic. The difference between being stressed about money when you aren’t employed compared to when you are employed is that you know you will have opportunities to get better at budgeting with every pay check. The difference is that you know there will be more paychecks coming down the pike. So while I complain, I’m also feeling pretty damn grateful that I have a job.

My horrid haircut is still horrid.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I dislike tradition and yet rely heavily on daily rituals. Daily rituals are like micro-traditions, so why do I feel so constrained and stressed by the idea of being beholden to traditions like having to make the same dishes every year for Thanksgiving (we don’t), or having to bake cookies every Christmas because that’s the thing we do every year (we don’t – because I don’t like baking cookies very much)*, or being beholden to everyone I know to spit out cards every December. I used to do that. It started out fun. As a young adult I loved the process of making or buying cards and writing messages in each one for everyone I know and getting them into the mail. Each successive year I did it it became more of a burden than a joy until eventually I just stopped doing it.

I don’t like other traditions either.

When people say the phrase “traditional family values” I want to puke because it nearly always means a person doesn’t value family unless it’s made up of straight white Christian people who at one point not that long ago in history thought inter-racial marriage was an abomination of god and country and fought to keep it so. “Traditional family values” is code for a very narrow ugly exclusionary version of family.

Traditions that are bound up in legality also make me angry. Things like men being the family inheritors instead of women. First borns being the automatic inheritors in families because that’s the way it’s been for several centuries, not because there’s a particularly fair and good reason for it. If parents make a will in which a son inherits everything because there is no daughter, that makes sense. But parents choosing to have their son or their eldest son inherit the bulk of their estate because they believe in patriarchal traditions, that’s just bullshit and pretty evil. I don’t particularly like the opposite Napoleonic version of inheritance either. Who inherits what should be a personal matter not decided by societal tradition but by individual families, based on their particular circumstances and needs/wishes.

“Tradition” often manifests itself as antiquated systems that survive long past reason or usefulness because people don’t like change. Systems that may have been useful at one point, maybe even felt to be necessary in some way when they were first started, but which have atrophied into “the way we do things because that’s the way it’s always been done”. Which is a lie, obviously. Nothing on earth is so stagnant that “it’s always been that way from the beginning of time”. Even inert things change through the influence of weather and other forces around them. Rocks break down into smaller rocks, weather decimates landscapes that then behave differently than before. Oceans become deserts, deserts fill with water and become lakes, mountains explode, the earth swallows up cities and everything in its wake.

Everything changes at some point. It serves humans best to initiate changes for the better than to wait until change is forced on them.

The American and European tradition of brides wearing white is stupid. If a bride wants to wear white because it looks good on her and she likes – I have no argument with that. But if a bride wears white for her wedding only because it never occurs to her to break tradition or because other people might not approve, I think that’s fucked up and really stupid.

Incidentally, I also think white as a symbol of virginity and purity and goodness is also fucked up. Mostly because I think it’s fucked up to view virginity as a virtue and to equate virginity with “purity”. To value “purity” as it relates to sexuality and blood are evil in my opinion. Especially because virginity as purity is only applied to women and valuing “purity” of blood is nearly always the evil seedling that grows up to become racial genocide. Religion is the other evil seed that grows up to become ideological genocide.

And yet, for all I loathe unchanging mores and societal rules and yearly obligations that many people actually enjoy, take away my little daily rituals and I will become extremely anxious. Getting dressed in the wrong order freaks me out, seeing others get dressed in the wrong order makes me feel like a thousand fingers are rubbing at a block of squeaky styrofoam right in my ear.

I’m thinking about how the concept of “as above, so below” applies to me in this context. If I want macro traditions to shake loose in the bigger world outside of me, do I need to shake loose my micro traditions of self? And how does having mental illness fit into all of this? The majority of my need for daily ritual is because I have clinical anxiety and the rituals are calming and give me a sense of order and control that I need in order to be able to function. Is that what bigger macro traditions do for others? Do some freaks of nature (who clearly hate my guts) go Christmas caroling every year because it makes them feel less anxious, more in control of time and season? Or do they do it because they think others will enjoy it?

WE DO NOT ENJOY IT YOU CREEPY MANIACS.

I have some self-soothing habits/rituals that are really negative and unhealthy so I could look at macro traditions in the same way. The kind of traditions that impede the liberties and rights of human beings are as unhealthy to civilization as cutting my own flesh with sharp objects was on a micro personal level. I haven’t done that since right before I turned 18 years old, in the same way that interracial marriage was made legal not long before I was born.

I have to go to work now and leave these thoughts somewhat hanging. I’ve already been thinking about them for two days. If you love macro traditions, what do you love about them? What do they DO for you personally? Do you also have a lot of personal micro traditions?

Be good to yourself and to others out there today, folks!

 

*Although I have toyed with the idea of making gingerbread and/or shortbread this week for some unfathomable reason. The fact that I haven’t yet done it is super-fathomable. I’m tired and don’t enjoy making cookies very much.