Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Ah-Choo! Ah-Choo!

In the waiting area of the doctor's office, a man sitting with his wife and daughter, 20 feet away, says to me, "God bless you."

Thank you.

At home in the kitchen: Ah-Choo!

Watching TV in the family room, Darling Husband says to me, "Bless you."

Thank you.


DH again: "Bless you."

Thank you.

Susceptible to springtime allergies since forever ago, my sneeze follows me around for a month or two; getting the attention of a family member, friend, or stranger who promptly says, "Bless you," "God bless you," or an occasional "Gesundheit."

When I was a child at home with my parents, I rarely got those responses. More likely, I heard, "Woo, that was a big one!" "Cover you mouth," or Turn your head"...not that Mom didn't want God to bless me. After all, my heart was dangerously stopping and missing a beat each time I sneezed... according to the belief of many.

Always a smidgen of a non-conformist, it occurred to me that I don't have to say "Bless you" every time someone sneezes; though I think it's a kind and personable act. With no expectation of a reprimand, I tried it (silence) when my daughter, Girl#1, who likes attention, sneezed.

"You didn't say anything," she said.

Oh. Bless you.

"Thank you," she responded with a smile of satisfaction.

Dictionary dot com defines tradition as "the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice." Bless you seems to fit.

I began to wonder about other traditions. For instance... When we name a child after a relative - an honor to the deceased or to family unity - do we really like the name? And godparents... When I was little, I was told that a godparent took responsibility of a godchild if something happened to the parents. My children don't have godparents. Hmmm... (I'm counting on DH and I staying alive for awhile.)

I finished another book recently - This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. A Jewish father dies. His wife and children sit shiva, a tradition of grieving together for seven days. The family in this R rated novel is probably not a good representation of sitting shiva, yet the characters learned some of life's lessons and benefited from it by forming stronger bonds.

Do we benefit from the traditions we follow? Do acts of tradition maintain order, as similar to laws?


Are you a traditional person?

(Rhetorically speaking: Does the bride have to wear white? Does the man have to be the breadwinner? Does the family have to spend holidays and vacations at the same place each year?)


Judy Thomas said...

I liked that last question in particular.
Traditions that serve important functions, and have meaning, seem fine to me (if the person wants to follow them). Others are wrong, oppressive and should be abandoned.

Ms. CrankyPants said...

I do say "bless you" but more out of habit than anything. (And it feels *weird* if I don't!)

What else? Didn't take my husband's last name, which is becoming more and more common, but most of my peers did.

And last thing off the top of my head: I don't really feel like we HAVE to eat turkey on Thanksgiving or ham on Easter. In fact, I'd prefer something less traditional!

joeh said...

Traditions can be nice and can be comforting. I do say God bless you out of habit and like Ms. Cranky Pants (no relation) says it is uncomfortable to not say it.

Linda said...

I do consider myself to be a traditional person. However, I have no problem with women working outside of the home, if they can and wish to!

Margie said...

I always say "bless you" when I hear a sneeze and I guess I am passing that tradition down to my granddaughter as she is saying it
to me now .... LOL

I believe in traditions!
We share a lot of them in my family and they are a source of joy.

Tabor said...

I have ambivalence about some traditions and adhere to others. I guess it depends on the memories that they provide.

Haddock said...

To all the last three questions I would say a NO.
Some traditions are OK and harmless, but there are people who pay through the nose to carry on some of the "traditions" and that is when one has to apply common sense and put a stop to it.
There I go preaching . . . . .

Bryan Jones said...

I don't view myself as traditional, but others (including my wife) probably think I am.

Like you, I suffer allergies around this time of the year and sneeze a lot (and loudly). My family don't say 'God bless you.' Instead I get, 'do you have to make so much damn noise?'

Abby said...

I don't typically do things just for tradition's sake. In fact, I rather think I'm a bit of a rebel in that regard :).

But if someone sneezes, I can't just let it end there!

ShadowRun300 said...

I suppose I like traditions. I'm also okay with changing things up. It wasn't until we celebrated our first Thanksgiving after losing my husband's mom and dad, that I realized how much I loved the tradition of gathering together at a huge dining room table with the whole clan. Because they were gone, there was no huge gathering. Instead, we gathered our kids together and smoked some pork and turkey, and took turns making the sides. Non-traditional for sure, but I think we're all hoping to make the non-tradition a tradition.
P.S. Thanks for making me think of traditions. Brought a smile to my face! :)

Rebecca S. said...

I'm both traditional and non-traditional, as in, I like traditions but I also like to make new ones - just because my family did something when I was growing up doesn't mean it will make sense in the context of my own present family situation. I like the tradition of a nice Sunday sit-down dinner, but now that my husband works most weekends and eats supper at work on Sundays, what is the point? We adapted.
I say Bless You, too, but recently a facebook friend actually resented it when an elderly lady mentioned God in her 'bless you'! She's atheist, but getting upset about something like that seems a bit extra touchy to me.

Rebecca S. said...

Oh, and to answer your questions at the bottom, I'm glad we are past the hard and fast traditional roles of males and females in the work place and in the home. There are lots of different ways to make the work/home family life balance in a way that really works for each family. I think you should go to the same place every year only if you really love it! Brides wearing white? Nah. But I don't care for black dresses on brides much :)

Hilary said...

I adhere to tradition in some ways.. repel it in others. Like most things in life, we tend to pick and chose what we follow and what we reject.

It's interesting that you mentioned baby names and sitting shiva. I'm Jewish, and tradition would have us name our children after a deceased relative.

My first born son was named after my late father but by his first initial only.. Dad was Joseph and my son is Jeffrey. Typically their Hebrew names would coincide but I didn't give my kids Hebrew names (that's one of the traditions I didn't follow).

My second son.. I gave him a middle name which matched my late bachelor Uncle Bill.. Alex's middle name is William.

So as far as naming my boys went, I like that tradition. On the other hand, also by Jewish tradition.. nay "law," they should have been circumcised but I followed what I felt was common sense and opted to leave them intact.

Good post as always, Anita.

Rob-bear said...

There was a time in my life when I was very traditional. (Probably not a bad idea for a Pastor.) Nowadays, I am a whole lot less so — I can follow tradition, or not — something I learned quite early on, actually. I'm still a very conservative, or reserved, person by nature. Though some might believe some of my thinking is down right heretical. And, in our family, we have developed our own traditions. Tevier would be mortified, perhaps.

As for your questions: No, no, and no.

Blessings and Bear hugs! (Would there be a difference between a traditional and a non-traditional hug from a Bear?)

Jen said...

I was taught and I do believe that traditions are comforting. We like our rituals, and we especially cling to them in difficult times.

My daughter would have been upset, too, if I didn't say, "Bless you."

TexWisGirl said...

i do like some of the rites and traditions i grew up in my religion, but i have never considered myself traditional. i don't fit a stereotype and that's okay by me. :)

menopausal mama said...

I always say "Bless You', but I'll admit, it is mostly out of habit---I grew up with a mother who said the same.

SuziCate said...

I'm a "bless you" person, too!