Tag Archives: Tradition

Breaking Tradition

Breaking Tradition

A tradition is a habit that we’re loath to break,
a memory that our hearts continue stubbornly to make.
It is our continuity, our chain link to the past.
We make a resolution that it’s always going to last.

And yet our lives must segue to what future we might grow.
We cannot drag the past with us wherever we may go
lest it become a ball and chain that keeps us from what may 
be an opportunity that may come our way.

Traditions are so comforting. They deal with what has been.
They make tiny departures seem a sort of sin,
but sometimes they just hold us back, keep us from being free,
and we must let loose of tradition to see what we can be.

Revenge can be tradition and one that’s hard to break,
causing backward facing hearts to fester and to ache.
As hard as it may be for us to turn around and heal,
it’s the only course that may enable us to feel.

When we peel away tradition, it gives hearts room to grow.
We plant seeds of new memories and tend them row on row.
The garden of our consciousness so fertile and so vast
that there is room for new traditions as alluring as the past.


The words of the day are segue, revenge, resolution and traditions.

Dia de Los Muertos, 2014

Dia de los Muertos, 2014


This is this year’s minimalist altar for my departed: husband Bob, Mother Pat and Father Ben. I wasn’t going to do one. Then Yolanda (my housekeeper) told me about a friend who didn’t  make a Dia de los Muertos altar for her mother who had recently died. This friend then went to see the elaborate offerings of her brothers and sisters, so she brought a rather poor specimen of a pumpkin and told them they could put that on her mother’s grave. That night she had a dream of walking through the graveyard. Every other grave was elaborately decorated with flowers and sweetly-scented candles and favorite foods of the departed: water, whiskey, tequila. When she got to her mother’s grave, there was no light and there were no offerings—only the one poor pumpkin. As she walked by, people shook their heads, and she left in shame. When she woke up, she went to her mother’s grave and took her fresh water, a candle, sweets, and all of the things her mother loved.


It worked.  I assembled an altar. Yolanda looked at it and told another story about how the water and candle help to create a breeze that brings the scent of the favorite foods to the departed. I quickly added a candle and a small glass of water with an ice cube—as Bob did hate a lukewarm Coke! When the ice cube melted, I added a small red heart to take its place. If you look closely, you can see it in the bottom of the glass.


It was my mother’s tradition to tuck a small box of Russell Stover candy into each of our Xmas stockings. One Xmas, we opened them to find only wrappers in each one. Over the course of the weeks before Xmas, our mother had opened each one, unable to resist eating the chocolates. So precedent decreed that I eat hers. You’ll see the empty papers littering the space around the box. (Yolanda, ever-respectful of tradition, helped by eating one piece.)


Although my father raised black Angus and Hereford cattle, this is Mexico, after all, so I think he’d forgive the long horns. A donut and a 10 peso piece complete his offerings. Last year I put a small glass of milk with cornbread crushed in it—his favorite cocktail. But this year the ants have taken over our part of Mexico, so I didn’t dare.