7 Days of Gratitude: Day 3 The Value of Traditions


A few years ago, my mother (being the gourmet, experimental chef she is) suggested that we shake things up and cook up something different for Thanksgiving. We responded with a very loud, definitive NO!
It’s about tradition. The familiar rituals that we create are critical to bringing comfort and calm and a sense that all is well. Not only do we crave the same food during special holidays, but also the same activities. Think about Thanksgiving dinner if you will – some people eat it mid-day, others in the evening. Neither is better than the other, but imagine how unsettling if your dinner was suddenly moved to another time slot?!
In fact, in Psychology Today (Feb 28, 2017) Saul Levine M.D. writes:
“When traditions take place on a regular basis, they bring predictability and constancy to our lives. In addition to the nurturance and pleasure of communing, they help remove us, at least temporarily, from the cacophony of the outside world. We get reassurance that we will indeed be all right.”
Making Puzzles
One of my favorite traditions during the holiday season is making puzzles. My youngest son, who loves them too, picks out a stack from our game closet and we work through them one at time from Thanksgiving through Christmas. We gather at the hand-oiled antique table in the living room next to a fire blazing in the fireplace, the room filled with music coming from either the stereo or someone’s guitar. My aunt usually jumps in later in the day, sometimes staying up well past midnight to finish a section. Puzzling together is both mesmerizing and gratifying setting the stage for easy, comfortable conversations. In fact, topics that my son might not share face-to-face, are effortless when our hands are busy fitting pieces together.
We don’t mind making the same puzzles year after year, our favorites becoming soft along the edges and spotted with wine, coffee and eggnog. But I’m always on the lookout for new ones. And we're particular – they have to be full of color of course! They can't be too easy nor too hard – this is about conversation, being together and feeling calm. And the more 'yummy' pieces in a puzzle the better: we pick out individual pieces that have especially pretty color combinations in them and celebrate when these find their way into the bigger pattern. We also don't like silly puzzles, and I'm personally a wee bit tired of landscapes and European towns (we have stacks of each).
A New Tradition
This year I searched in vain to find a puzzle that met our criteria… and so I made one! The original painting is a square and so the available size is only 19x19 and 500 pieces. My son and I gave it a whirl the other day during our 24 hour respite up at the island. It was perfect! Not too easy, not too hard. It took us a few hours and best of all, was full of color! In fact, I couldn’t decide which were my favorite individual pieces because each piece had so much color in it.

Voila! Brings extra meaning to the idea of 'making puzzles', and I am seriously considering creating a new one each year!

I love making new Traditions, don't you?