Monday, February 17, 2014

Traditions I Ignore

Two traditions I dislike attending: funerals and marriages.  They are cookie-cutter ceremonies. The worst part of funerals is listening to a minister who probably has more attendees standing in the hot sun or hovering together to keep warm or huddling under the tent or personal umbrellas. No matter the raw circumstances the attendees face, the minister sees the group, and decides to preach the sermon of his life. Not only has he already said enough inside the church or home, but also he feels he has to continue under the tent as we look at a box hovering above an abyss.

How can one be sympathetic/empathetic for the family of a lost one when tradition overshadows the life of the deceased? If you think about the whole situation, more emphasis is given to a few remarks given by friends and family (some truly informative and funny) a few sad hymns, and then marching out of the sanctuary, getting into your car and forming a line to the cemetery. The bill for the casket and funeral that comes later in the mail takes the family's breath away. Or a quickly written check that could feed a few homeless men is given with smiles.

Or, if there are cremains or a closed casket, guests are ushered into a community room to feast on something simple like coffee or punch and a brownie. Someone later remarks on the frugality of such simple fare. If the group is large, you walk into a room filled with six or more tables laden with food that easily will feed more than the thousands Jesus did when he broke a loaf of bread.

And feast the attendees do. You'd think they skipped a meal and planned to save buying lunch or dinner.They load their small plates overflowing. Try eating from a small paper plate lying in one hand, drinking punch or wine with the other that also holds a fork or a large chip and you're bound to have a few disasters. These attendees go home talking about the variety of food -- the deceased is given a "poor soul" remark on the way home.

Marriage ceremonies are similar. Why does nearly every woman want the "dress of her dreams" that cost Daddy a bundle, plus all the ornamentation that goes with the ceremony and the entertainment and food that a family feels it must display for the attendees to prove their financial status.

You know families like this. Have a funeral or a wedding the way others have in order to "keep up with the Joneses" or to prove something deeper. I admire the couple you read about in the paper who had a simple wedding whose family and friends know the couple is as married as another couple who left the country club an hour before. I understand  personal weddings and funerals are being introduced these days. Hurrah!

I'm sick of the television series "Say Yes to the Dress". To pay thousands of dollars for the "perfect" dress worn once  that  previously the act of choosing caused tears and anger among family members who supposedly were to support the bride-to-be, then the bride has to choose all the ornaments and food and china and crystal and flowers, etc. Marriage takes four people and a minister.
Then there is the process of burying a loved one in the finest mahogany casket lined in satin that sets the families back thousands of dollars they may have to take out a bank loan to repay--all the time knowing that time under dirt will disintegrate the box and its contents. How this reveals a lack of sense, a refusal to think outside the box in order to avoid ridicule and stress figuring which casket will honor a dead person who doesn't care one flip what he's put away in. Or the choice was made by the funeral home who pressured the family to "remember your loved one in the finest way."

Rarely do I attend a funeral and if I am hungry I'll attend a wedding. Otherwise, I'll stay at home and write a proper note.