When Tevya belts out this song in Fiddler on the Roof, I never fail to be moved. Clearly, he values the traditions that are a major part of his world.
Our daughter loves traditions, too. Her favorite season is Christmas, and there are many aspects of the holiday she anticipates for months: playing the music, cutting the tree, setting out our Eastern German decorations.
The gifts bring The Fashion Queen joy, too, but she’s far more into those for others than what she gets. She loves helping her dad and me plan what to buy each other, wrapping the presents in colorful drawstring bags we made a number of years ago, and watching us open the carefully selected items Christmas morning, which we do slowly as we take turns.
Traditions are an important part of our lives. They can also play a role in those of our characters. I finished a great book last night in which that was true, A Case for Love by Kaye Dacus.
In this contemporary romance, the heroine, Alaine, invites the hero, Forbes, to join her at the Fourth of July celebration in her community, an event that’s been a tradition in her family for years. Sharing the experience with Alaine gives Forbes a better understanding of and appreciation for who she is.
At one point in the story, external circumstances force Forbes to forgo his longstanding tradition of meeting his siblings and cousins for their weekly dinner out during a two-month period. He suffers as a result.
As I read and enjoyed Kaye’s story, I was struck by how effectively she used tradition as an important aspect in her characters’ lives and what she revealed about them through the use of this element.
When Forbes was unable to attend the weekly dinners, he felt alone and adrift. For the first time in his life, he realized just how much his family meant to him at a deep, foundational level. Without them, he felt incomplete.
Alaine felt a bond with those in her part of town, one strengthened as they celebrated the holiday together each year. Working together deepened her sense of belonging to something bigger than herself.
When Forbes saw firsthand how much the people in Alaine’s world meant to her, he understood why she’d risk her reputation to help them. Her example helped him do the same. When she, in turn, saw what he gave up for the sake of her family and her, she not only hurt for him. Her appreciation and respect for him grew as well.
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I wanna know . . .
Have you used traditions to reveal things about your characters?
Have you read books or watched shows in which tradition played a role?
What are some of the traditions that are an important part of your family?
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It’s Frabjous Friday, a day for celebrating the good things that have happened during the week. If you’ve got good news to share, please tell us in a comment so we can celebrate with you.