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“2010: Is It Time for a Change?
Written by:  Jan Beedle

The years fly by faster as a person ages. How many times have I heard that from oldsters and overlooked it? With each passing Holiday Season, I am finding the statement to be truer than the last. Maybe it is because I go slower, but the world around me seems to be going faster…and faster. January is always time for renewal.

In “Fiddler on the Roof,” tradition means everything in keeping alive a culture and a family. According to Webster, tradition is a custom handed down from the past. During the prologue to the musical, the role of God’s law in maintaining balance in villagers’ lives is explained in “Traditon.” The song places an inner circle (the people) within an outer circle, which contains the lawmakers, the priest, rabbi, and others who rule the village. Without their traditions, the residents would be “as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.” When family values begin to unravel, so do loyalties – leading to dissolution of family.

Growing up and through adulthood, I may not have agreed or been comfortable with social or family special events, but I made myself grin and go on with the show. After all – I feel it is important for the matriarch to keep the family together.

In a world of love, hate and feelings, there is always some issue to have to deal with – no wonder so many retirees find it necessary to escape to find solace with their own age group. Is it safety in numbers, other shoulders to cry on, or the need to avoid life as it becomes more difficult to face?

When I see the world population struggling for a drink of fresh water, medical care, or a scrap of food, I feel guilty about my own comfortable, orderly lifestyle. Each year, I resolve to cut down on extravagance to family and myself by giving more to the less fortunate. The smiles and gratitude of those who truly need the help would be my greatest benefit.

This time of the year is when I gather blankets and pillows for the Dayton area homeless, but I had my heart set on helping with the annual Elder Beerman’s Thanksgiving dinner this year too. If I could involve my family, we could form a new tradition…one that might mean so much more to each of us. Guess the rotten economy caught up with the tradition.

I want to change our family Christmas celebration for 2011 to a simpler format. Drawing names for the adults does not appear to be a bad idea. One gift per child would be a culture shock to the recipient, but facing reality of adulthood and the plight of those who have not might be a heart-warming experience. Besides, I no longer see or feel gratitude or appreciation for any gift. It is as though the words, thank you, were never invented. I only see great expectations of more in the eyes of the receivers. Besides, I’m asking myself, “How does the exorbitant gift-giving help the world?”

A month before Christmas I heard a bold statement from a seventeen-year-old, “I only want money for Christmas. I am saving for a car.” Now they are telling the givers what they want and the expectation is out in the open. Someday she may have to face the fact that she may have to work for it, same as most. Do ya’ think? I have my own name for this generation – the Gottahaveitallrightnow Kids.

Since I am now the family matriarch, I suppose the entire change is up to me. We could still enjoy the shopping excursions, but instead buy for the needy. Rather than RVing to Florida, I will hang around here and plan a new year with a revised strategy of giving. I wonder if the revived Thanksgiving Day gala can stand two or more servers, or four, or nine? I have always been optimistic. I hope that I can save the holidays and we can remain together as a family for next Thanksgiving and Christmas.

As Tevye from “Fiddler…” sang, “What words of wisdom can I give them? How can I help to ease their way? Now they must learn from one another day by day. One season following another laden with happiness and tears.” We could all become as “shaky as a fiddler on the roof,” or we could form new worthwhile traditions together.

Happy 2010. Won’t you join me in my pursuit of a lasting happiness? This could be a turning point for you too. It takes everyone to change the world.
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