Every year I make a couple of pies that I’ve had at every Thanksgiving since I was a toddler. Lemon and Chocolate Chess pies are part of my family tradition; they found their way there because when my mom tried one out of a cooking magazine in 1979, she walked into the kitchen to take it out of the oven and was transported to her own childhood and pies in her grandmother’s house.
The tradition is strong. And that sense of tradition applies to lots of dishes we’ve adopted into our meal over the years – some new, some decades old. This year I was able to look at our 2014 google doc and say, “that’s about right.”
The challenge, then, is to keep it fresh and new despite the repetition. Try a few new things, sub out some tired recipes or rotate things in and out.
Balancing tradition and innovation is hard, whether it’s on Thanksgiving or in your choir program. I both admire and don’t envy the conductors who are in their third decade (or more) in one spot. By then, so many traditions can build up, it’s hard to change anything at all. Even if you’ve outgrown that recipe, your community is hungry for it.
What do you do to keep your choral program fresh? How do you balance building traditions that are rewarding with reflecting what you are passionate about today? Continuing to cook recipes that no longer excite you is a great way to burn out – not every tradition is as timeless as the chess pies are for me and my family.
I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving full of old traditions and new favorites.