I have immense respect for tradition. I'm usually the one saying, "But we've always done it this way." Or, "the kids will expect it." Or, "Because. Just because."


So I have no explanation, or defense, for what happened this weekend: I changed how we (cough, I) decorate the Christmas tree.

In some ways, I saw this coming. I've been itching to change up things lately, whether it's where I store the flour to which window gets which plant. A bout of the crappiest cold I've had in years slowed me down some, so we were a week behind getting tree up ... and it was smaller than usual ... and I suddenly saw an opportunity.

This year, instead of being loaded with a highly varied collection of ornaments gathered over the past 30 years, our tree now has about two dozen glass balls in shades of green, and about a dozen feathered birds -- the sort you stick into equally fake wreathes or whatnot.

I like it, and the rest of the family has given its blessing, although my husband looked at me a little too closely before nodding, apparently deciding I was a danger to no one.

The fact is, I just couldn't face all those ornaments this year. The ritual of placing each one, which I normally find calming, just sounded annoying this season. I'm not defying Christmas, just some of its habits. And, I'm finding that we survive and may even be reinvigorated. I mean, odds are huge that I will revert to tradition next year, probably because I will want to see the ornaments again.

It's not as if my traditions hadn't already changed. As most married couples know, vows never cover the really important things, like how you decorate your Christmas tree. I moved from being a flocked-and-twinkle-light woman to a colored bulbs and tinsel spouse. The adaptation was only a little painful. Frankly, I never thought I'd change again.

Until this year.

Have you changed long-held traditions, whether in decor, or food, or rituals? Was it accepted? Did you revert the next year? Did it lead to other tweaks? What happens when someone - say in the younger generation - wants to change tradition?