I was recently invited as a guest to A Robert Burns Supper with the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia. One of my best friends from my childhood is a long-time member of The St. Andrew’s Society along with his father who has held officer posts in the past. I have attended many formal banquets in my life but few, if any, have ever compared to the structure of which I witnessed at the Robert Burns Supper.
The evening was filled with energy and networking. Throughout dinner there where several brief remarks made by a few prominent individuals in the society. Looking at the agenda, I counted no less than 13 such moments throughout the evening when someone would get up and share a few words. For the most part such words were solemn; sometimes they were intently delivered with humor (including light innuendo) and sometimes there was interactivity with everyone in attendance. I, as the outsider, was left presuming that the messages and the craft of delivery were steeped in a rich tradition that predates the Independence of the United States from British rule.
During the evening there was one part where a gentlemen took to the podium to offer The Toast to the Lassies (queue up the the playful innuendo). At the conclusion of this toast, a woman took to the podium to deliver The Reply to the Laddies. With so much laughter and ceremony surrounding the evening up to this point, it was quite apt for this woman to poke playful fun at the antics surrounding the evening by referring to the night as being filled with “goofy pageantry”.
I realized right then and there that it is indeed the fun we purposefully design into our lives that fuels tradition and not just solemnity alone. If you wish for sustainability in the design of tradition, keeping elements caged that will incite laughter is indeed ill-advised. Go ahead make ’em laugh a little. That will provide enduring inspiration to carry the torch far in to the future.
As always, comments are welcome.
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