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Monday, October 1, 2012

Celebrations and Ceremonies

Today is my mother-in-law's funeral. It's also my brother's birthday. Both have me thinking about milestones and the way we mark them.

The older I get, the more complicated my feelings about birthdays. Remember being a kid? Your birthday was almost as big as Christmas. My parents weren't big on parties or presents, but I usually got a cake. My birthday was supposed to be my special day. Most of them were a big disappointment. We were either at a family reunion where I had to share my cake and candles with several aunts, cousins, and other relatives or something else obnoxious happened. I had my tonsils out right before my twelfth birthday. By the time I could eat cake, it was long gone. These days, each birthday is a reminder that I'm not getting younger.

Funerals are a tricky subject. For my husband's mother, it will be a celebration of a life well lived and a woman well loved. Because of my faith and my religion, death isn't a final ending. It's only another step in our journey of existence. But the funeral isn't for the deceased, it's for the family and the friends. It's a way to find closure. It's a necessary step in grieving.

Another common milestone in life is marriage. Many societies also have a coming of age ceremony to celebrate the passage of a person from childhood to adulthood. Without these milestones, we may become lost, anchorless. These help provide the framework for a social structure, the basis for many traditions.

What are some of your favorite traditions or celebrations? Have you created a set for your fiction stories? Are there traditions in fiction books that bother you? What and why?