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Al's a-Musing: Keep the spirit of modern tradition

The beginning of October marks one of my favorite times of year. The heat tempers off, jackets come out, and the leaves blossom into embers. It’s a bit like organic fireworks. Soon you’ll be able to find them at Whole Foods Markets as an alternative to mainstream celebration.

Halloween is ornamented by many different traditions. Some deface private property. Others bob for apples, hold provocative parties or shamefully trick-or-treat, even though they are old enough to have declared a major. If you are one of these people, stop it. Aside from annoyance, it really doesn’t matter how you spend your Halloween. I’ll be scaring myself to death.

No October is complete without a couple of near-miss heart attacks or pants changes. As I’m writing this, I’m watching a “Walking Dead” marathon, which most likely will render me sleepless tonight. Do I care? Not really. Ever since I was young, I remember huddling around the TV and watching “The Twilight Zone.” This childhood fascination has led to a preoccupation with all things creepy, and once October rolls around, I have an excuse. It’s like those infectiously jolly people who wait all year for Christmas to seem normal, except I wait for October to discuss strategies to survive the zombie apocalypse. (P.S. Utah’s suburbia is screwed.)

While being scared might not float your boat, you should find some way to embrace the holiday. I’ve seen a startling decrease in festivities among our generation, and I fear that some of the most time-honored traditions will be forgotten before too long. Trick-or-treats are becoming trunk-or-treats, because that’s just what our kids need to consume more calories while walking less. Christmas trees are exchanged for wreaths, and menorahs are plugged in instead of ceremoniously lit. While these substitutions aren’t inherently bad, it does show a trend that we can’t be bothered to celebrate.

I am not saying the way we’ve always done things is inherently right, but I find some sense of nostalgia and value in honoring tradition surrounding these anticipated holidays. I fear that if we move away from celebrating these things, we lose part of our heritage, and subsequently our society. Ultimately, I fear losing any lasting value behind these holidays.

In that light, if you take offense to trick-or-treating, or domestic pine trees, or denting the turkey population, do something else. Don’t forgo your celebration. We’re becoming a jaded and disinterested generation. While some choose to hide behind the guise of enlightenment or sardonicism, I can’t. I like my Christmas tree too much.

Tradition gets a bad rap in today’s independent society, but it doesn’t have to be confining. It can be a personal hallmark that you look forward to every year. I’ll provide a silly example: Every December, my wife and I eat Chinese food, and exchange ornaments to put on a tree. That’s all there is to it. But it’s something I look forward to every year.

The core of my sermon (rant) is this: Do something to honor a holiday. Halloween is a mere week away, and I’m sure that people can find some way to ring in the ghostly season. Whatever you do, enjoy yourself. I’ll be scared into preparing for the zombie apocalypse, much to my wife’s dismay. That’s one custom I don’t think I’ll get to stick. Create your own traditions. Exhume your old pastimes. Honor yourself by honoring the season.

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