Seasonal Traditions

A few years ago I had the opportunity to take the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI), a personality assessment that divides people into one of 16 types.* For the most part, I came out as an ISTJ; strong on the I and J, rather wobbly on the S and T. In reviewing the description with my career coach, she asked if I could see myself in it. And I could. Sort of.

Fondness for logic … check. Practical and sensible … I like to think so. Preference for working alone … guilty as charged. Valuing traditions … what?!

That is not me at all. As an undergraduate, a group of friends and I led a rebellion against the numerous traditions of our college. As a bride, I did ear a white dress … but I think that was the only element of our wedding that could be called traditional. My problem with traditions? They’re not logical. And herein lies some of the inconsistency with the MBTI: according to the book, ISTJs “baulk at doing anything that doesn’t make sense to them”.
And I cannot see the sense in doing something because that’s what has always been done.

Look at the song “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye explains how the village’s traditions help give its people an identity and allow them to find their balance. Yet if you listen closely, it is these same traditions that prevent adaptation in a changing world. W. Somerset Maugham once wrote that “Tradition should be a guide and not a jailer” and it is this flexibility that is required for traditions to succeed.

All of this is to preface that there is one tradition I do look forward to: the annual Christmas photo competition. “Competition” is perhaps a strong word, as there are no winners, losers, or prizes, but simply the chance to view family members’ favourite pictures from the past year. My husband started the tradition an indeterminable number of years ago, asking his family to pick what they considered to be his best photograph from a shortlist of 10. The event has now grown to include his entire family—and mine— submitting photos. PowerPoint presentations are involved, as are handouts and official voting sheets to select the top three photos for each person.

As someone who takes a lot of pictures, this provides an opportunity to review the year and refresh my memory as to what I have done. On Tuesday I’ll be revealing the pictures that made it to this year’s competition, but in the meantime here are a few photos that didn’t make the cut, but which I thought deserved to see the light of day.

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* It’s not the official MBTI test, but you can do an online assessment to be slotted into one of the 16 personalities. It’s a bit like finding out what house you would be at Hogwarts, but with a lot more text.

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