The importance of tradition and acceptance of change

NIAGARA, Wis. — This seems to be an appropriate time of year to contemplate the meaning and importance of tradition. What is tradition, and why is it so important? Can we allow traditions to change without losing their significance?

Every nation in the world has its traditions. Nicola Watts writes that “tradition is a belief, principle, custom behavior with symbolic meaning or special significance that people in a particular group or society have continued to follow for a long time — often handed down from one generation to the next.”

Saul Levine, M.D., professor emeritus in psychiatry at the University of California, explains the four B’s to illustrate the profound role of tradition in our lives.

1. Being: We receive a sense of inner peace, a self-acceptance of our strengths and weaknesses, and a feeling of being grounded in our core identity.

2. Belonging: We acquire a sense of comfort from being part of a group of people such as a family or team that share mutual values and provide support, respect, and friendship.

3. Believing: We fulfill our need to believe in a system of moral principles and ethical behavior whether religious or secular.

4. Benevolence: We develop a predisposition to be helpful to others in need and to enhance the lives of others in our group of people, which often extends to strangers as well.

Watts continues, explaining that traditions provide us with numerous benefits. They provide us with a source of identity; they tell the story of where we came from and remind us of what has shaped our lives. They connect generations and strengthen our group bonds, and help us feel that we are part of something unique and special. They offer us both comfort and security, especially in times of profound change and grief. They teach us values and help us pass on our cultural and religious history. Best of all, they create lasting memories which are with us for the rest of our lives.

Frank Sonnenberg states that traditions represent a critical piece of a people’s culture. They help form the structure and foundation of families and society. And most powerfully, they remind us that we are part of a history that defines our past, shapes who we are today, and helps us toward who we are likely to become. Obviously, he is talking about more than turkey on Thanksgiving and greeting cards at Christmas!

Sonnenberg writes a bit more specifically in his list of the seven benefits acquired from having and keeping traditions.

1. “Tradition contributes a sense of comfort and belonging. It brings families together and enables people to reconnect with friends.” Whether it be the holidays, birthday or graduation parties, anniversaries, family reunions, or something as small as traditional Sunday morning pancakes, gatherings are important.

2. “Tradition reinforces values such as freedom, faith, integrity, a good education, personal responsibility, a strong work ethic, and the value of being selfless.” Both my husband and I were raised in homes that stressed the importance of education. Teachers were respected; if we misbehaved in school, we received punishment twice as stiff when we got home. We were taught that if we wanted something, we had to work for it as nothing was simply given to us. My husband and his brother shared clothes — literally giving each other the shirts off their backs. And if a neighbor needed help, you were the first one there. We passed those lessons along to our own sons.

3. “Tradition provides a forum to showcase role models and celebrate the things that really matter in life.” This is why we have Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day.

4. Tradition offers a chance to say thank you for the contribution that someone has made.” Nationally, we observe Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day for this reason. Birthdays can provide deeper meaning when they are used to show our appreciation for that person’s value to our family. The same is true for retirement parties.

5. “Tradition enables us to showcase the principles of our Founding Fathers, celebrate diversity, and unite us as a country.” This is, after all, the reason behind our July Fourth observance — it’s more than fireworks and picnics, although those are great traditional family gatherings.

6. “Tradition serves as an avenue for creating lasting memories for our families and friends.” In our retirement years, we have cultivated a small, but close-knit, group of friends with whom we have developed traditions. We rotate dinner together at each other’s homes and now observe holidays together as well, since our immediate families are spread so far apart.

7. “Tradition offers an excellent context for meaningful pause and reflection.” This year, our youngest son treated us to dinner to celebrate our 50th anniversary. He and his wife asked for, and greatly appreciated, the sharing of our married history. Their desire to hear about how we managed to navigate that journey meant more to us than the lovely meal.

Finally, both these writers dealt with whether or not it was wise to change traditions. If change occurred, could they still be considered traditions? And if change was needed, how much change could take place before the meaning behind the tradition was lost? Nationally, I personally believe that our country is stronger and richer the more we accept diversity. Our nation is comprised of citizens with global origins, each bringing interesting traditions from their own countries. They have beautiful ceremonies, delicious foods, and colorful dress they should not have to sacrifice to be a part of America. Being flexible enough, and showing a willingness, to honor their traditions only enhances and broadens our own.

Each family is different, but I believe that families also become stronger by accepting different ways of observing those important events. As children marry, it is far more beneficial if we view it not as “losing” a son or daughter, but as “gaining” an entire additional family. The flexibility required at first will be difficult, but it will reap much greater rewards than stubborn resistance to change. Holidays can be shared and still provide beautiful memories.

I will conclude these thoughts today with words from the renowned and ever-wise Mahatma Gandhi, “It is good to swim in the waters of tradition but to sink in them is suicide.”



Freeman Nursing and Rehabilitation Community



Freeman’s has resumed small group activities. Visitation is currently being allowed twice weekly with screening and COVID-19 testing required before entering the building. All precautions are still being taken to protect residents. Everyone has adjusted to this new normal; however, they are all looking forward to a great get-together when it is safe to do so.

Iron County Medical Care Facility

Crystal Falls


Sunday: Room visits, 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; puzzle time, 10 a.m.; chair exercise, 11 a.m.; bingorama, 1:30 p.m.

Monday: Cookie workshop, 9 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; mystery ride, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Book club, 10 a.m.; Catholic Mass video, 10 a.m.; resident council, 10:30 a.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; holiday movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee social/travel club, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; Santa’s elves (cards and wrapping), 1:30 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; Bible study, 1 p.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; United Lutheran, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; gifts from Santa, 1:30 p.m.; holiday movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Puzzler/you be the judge 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; social hour, 2 p.m.

ProMedica (formerly ManorCare)



Limited visitation has resumed for family and friends. Appointments must be made in advance by calling the center.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.


Church services are five days each week. Note that scheduled visits are in the front living room or outdoors and are by appointment only. Daily scheduled activities continue to be for residents only.

Sunday: Rosary, 8:30 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; coffee and short stories, 10:30 a.m.; tailgate party, Packers vs. Bears, 2 p.m.

Monday: Rosary/communion, 8:30 a.m.; you be the judge, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Rosary/communion, 8:30 a.m.; entertainment, Bob Larson, 10:15 a.m.; Christmas creative art, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Rosary/communion, 8:30 a.m.; guided imagery drawing, 10:15 a.m.; Yahtzee, 2 p.m.

Thursday: Rosary/communion, 8:30 a.m.; Uno, 10:15 a.m.; jokereno, 2 p.m.

Friday: Bowling, 10:15 a.m.; happy hour with music, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Spelling bee and coffee, 10:30 a.m.; rummage bingo, 2 p.m.

Golden Living Center

Florence, Wis.


Visitation is allowed in designated areas only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Each visit is limited to 30 minutes and must be scheduled in advance. All visitors will be subject to health screening before entering the facility. Residents have resumed some small group activities.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain


Sunday: Juice time, 10 a.m.; Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; Packers vs. Bears, 7:20 p.m.

Monday: Juice time, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; high school choir, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Juice time, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; trivia, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Juice time, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; music with Pastor Jim, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Juice time, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; Lutheran Bible study, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Friday: Juice time, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; music with Jim Edberg, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Juice time, 10 a.m.; movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.; dinner music with Todd

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility



Sunday: Cards, 10:30 a.m.; Lutheran service (multipurpose room), 2 p.m.

Monday: Gingerbread houses, 10:30 a.m.; ice cream social, 2 p.m.; bunco, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Bingo, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Painting, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.; room visits, 6 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 10:30 a.m.; Catholic Mass (multipurpose room), 2 p.m.; games, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.; room visits, 3:30 p.m.


Alpha-Mastodon Center


Amasa Center


Now open for dine-in eating — serving at 11:30 a.m. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Beef stroganoff, noodles, carrots and broccoli/cauliflower salad.

Wednesday: Poor man’s lobster, oven-brown potatoes, peas and coleslaw.

Thursday: Pork chop, baked potato, corn and lettuce salad.

Note: All meals include milk, bread and butter, fruit and dessert.

Breen Center



Now open for dine-in eating — serving at noon. Night meals are on hold indefinitely. Carryout meals also are available. Soup and salad bar are also available. Menu for the week —

Monday: Beef stew and biscuits.

Tuesday: Baked chicken, peas and mashed potatoes.

Wednesday: Cheese ravioli, meat sauce and Brussel sprouts.

Thursday: Grilled cheese burger soup.

Friday: Beef stroganoff, noodles and carrots.

Note: All meals served with a choice of skim milk or juice and fruit.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Sterling Peryam

Assistant cook: Rocky Scarlassara


The center is now open and is once again serving meals for dine in or take out – call the center by 1 p.m. to make reservations or to place your order. All food is purchased from local vendors. All dinners include salad bar, homemade desserts, coffee, tea, or milk.

Salad bar begins at 4:30 p.m. and dinner is served at 5 p.m. Pick up for takeout meals is 4 p.m., call ahead and leave a message with your phone number. A volunteer will deliver meals to homebound citizens only. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Italian sausage in tomato sauce with noodles, vegetables, salad bar and homemade dessert.

Wednesday: Ham, cheesy potatoes, vegetables, salad bar and homemade dessert.

Crystal Lake Center

Iron Mountain

906-774-2256 ext. 230 or 235.

Home-delivered meals only — call to make arrangements. Menu for the week —

Monday: Smothered pork chops, mashed potatoes and corn.

Tuesday: Beef stroganoff, green beans and rice.

Wednesday: Chili cheese dog, tater tots and carrots.

Thursday: Chicken Alfredo over noodles, Italian blend vegetables and breadstick.

Friday: Ham with au gratin potatoes and cauliflower.

Note: All meals include a choice of skim milk, juice, or no beverage.

For more information, call Christine McMahon at 906-774-2256

Felch Center


Now open for dine-in eating — call for serving times. Carryout meals also are available. Menu for the week —

Monday: Barbecue pork, oven-browned potatoes and coleslaw.

Tuesday: Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, gravy and California blend vegetables.

Wednesday: Evening meal – Ham, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans.

Note: All meals served with skim milk or juice.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Restrictions have lifted at some centers. Menu for the week —

Monday: Chicken vegetable pot pie, coleslaw and fruit.

Tuesday: Sloppy Joes, baked beans, broccoli salad and fruit.

Wednesday: Beef stew, biscuits, fruit and pudding.

Thursday: Baked ham, company potatoes, green bean casserole, whole wheat rolls, fruit pie and ice cream.

Friday: Baked fish, oven fries, beet salad and fruit.

Note: All meals served with whole grain bread, butter and milk.

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980 –RSVP for meal at 855-528-2372

Same as ADRC menu, served at noon on Wednesday only.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

RSVP for meal at 715-528-4261.

Same as ADRC menu. Now open — serving at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday.

Tipler Town Hall

715-674-2320 — RSVP for meals.

Same as ADRC menu, served at noon on second Thursday only.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

715-589-4491 — RSVP for meals.

Same as ADRC menu. Now open — serving at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Iron River Center


Now open for dine-in eating — serving at 11 a.m., salad bar available. No night meals. Carryout meals also available. Menu for the week —

Monday: Polish sausage, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and biscuit.

Tuesday: Chicken a la king, green beans and biscuit.

Wednesday: Brat and bun, macaroni and cheese, pickle spear and baked beans.

Thursday: Chicken, dirty rice, coleslaw and roll.

All meals served with milk or juice and a serving of fruit.

Norway Center

Director: Michelle DeSimone


Now open for dine-in eating served restaurant style beginning at 11:15 a.m. Salad bar available from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Takeout meals will remain available for pickup from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Menu for the week —

Monday: Chicken parmesan over noodles, spinach and breadstick.

Tuesday: Cod, scalloped potatoes and carrots.

Wednesday: Chef salad with vegetables and meats and breadstick — no salad bar.

Thursday: Enchiladas, vegetable toppings, rice and refried beans.

All meals include milk, juice, fruit, bread and dessert.

Sagola Center


Now open for dine-in eating — call for serving times. Carryout meals also available. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Pulled pork, baked beans and coleslaw.

Wednesday: Chili dogs, potato wedges, broccoli and cauliflower.

Thursday: Roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and carrots.

All meals served with an option of milk, juice or no beverage.


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