If the thought of the upcoming Labor Day brings a smile to your face, chances are good that you associate some special tradition with this day. Long heralded as the official end of summer with the beginning of the school year, it has always been a joyous holiday when we did special things or did nothing at all.

Human nature is such that there seems to be a built-in defense mechanism that we can call on in cases of emergency. We use this mechanism to make the most of a harsh situation or to lessen the pain of a troubling one.

Individuals react in different ways and this is where our traditions come into play. Today we are in the middle of harsh economic times where many people are unemployed and many more unsure of their jobs so our traditions become the source of pleasant memories.

A tradition is a very personal thing and when it is practiced over and over, year after year, it becomes a part of our being. Tradition may be an elaborate production or it may only be a simple thing, but it will be repeated through the years. It then becomes a part of the holiday in our thinking and we look forward to it each year.

You may already have a set of traditions with which to enjoy the upcoming holiday, but if not, this would be a good time to give them some thought. The words “we always” are followed by a description of what you do on that holiday, what makes it special to you.

Labor Day traditions may include grilling hot dogs in the back yard or picnicking in the park, going to the beach for one last visit before school starts, eating at some special place, watching the fireworks or doing just about nothing. It can be, “We always just do nothing on Labor Day,” and this is a worthwhile tradition in itself.

Whatever you do year after year becomes a part of the way you celebrate holidays and even when things are not going well, this repetition of the celebration will bring you pleasure. Think about the other holidays: what are your traditions? What makes them enjoyable to you?

Christmas and Thanksgiving probably have more traditions associated with them than any of the other holidays.

Is it your tradition to allow one present to be opened on Christmas Eve or do you open all the presents on Christmas Eve? Midnight mass is attended by many on Christmas Eve. Hot chocolate is served in special Santa mugs on Christmas morning while gifts are being opened.

A jar of Hellman’s mayonnaise is always on the bountiful Thanksgiving and Christmas table to remind the family of the days when it could not be afforded.

Thanksgiving is probably best known for going to grandmothers and if you are lucky enough to have such a grandmother, you are blessed indeed, but some simply eat out. Others enjoy a special menu item, such as mincemeat pie.

Easter offers opportunity for tradition making. Sunrise service starts the day for some: colored Easter eggs are hunted and a movie is in the planning for the afternoon. Sandwiches from the Easter ham and egg salad are eaten that night.

Perform good deeds, such as as working in a soup kitchen or delivering gifts to the less fortunate or shipping boxes. It won’t be hard to locate some such place where you can do your good deed.

On New Year’s Day, many people eat their blackeyed peas and greens, the greens signifying they will have money in the coming year.

Enjoy your holiday. Consider starting your own traditions; they will live long after you are gone.

Happy holiday.

Bita Bullet is the pen name of a local anonymous writer who can be reached at opelikaobserver@att.net