I feel similarly toward Christmas traditions. If I show up at a Christmas Eve service and no one mentions the birth of Jesus, I'm likely to be a bit perturbed. Other than that, no biggie...although I do like the candles. I've put up trees a month before Christmas, and on Christmas Eve, and not at all. I've had Christmases with my family, Christmases with my "eastern family," Christmases with friends, and Christmases curled up on my couch watching movies with my dog. They've all been good. They have been what worked with whatever situation I was in at the time.
My family was never terribly attached to tradition; we had some sort of gathering with extended family at Christmas, but that shifted as people moved, got married, had kids, etc. We often went to church on Christmas Eve, but the when and where were debatable. I never got used to a particular rhythm of how the holiday was "supposed" to go, or specific rituals that made it feel like Christmas.
Liturgically and theologically, I appreciate tradition. It connects us to the larger Church, and provides a theological standard for our worship services. But I tend to hold tradition in one hand, and relevance and functionality in the other. If our liturgy doesn't work, either in that it doesn't connect with people or that it doesn't work logistically, I'm likely to use the tradition to inform a new way of doing things. In Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell uses the metaphor of doctrine as a brick wall or a trampoline: you can choose to build up a solid edifice of doctrines (which may very well collapse if one is pulled out), or you can use doctrine as a jumping off point. When it comes to tradition, I'm more likely to bounce than pull out the mortar.
What all of this adds up to is that, as a minister, I have a small lacking when it comes to understanding how many people feel about traditions. Intellectually, I know that tradition is important to people, that it's comforting, that it gives them security - but I don't quite get it. Hence, I am forever running up against it. This year, we are having the Drama of Christmas with the youth, several of whom are quite annoyed at me for changing the Christmas Eve youth service so that they "don't feel like it's Christmas anymore."
I don't want to be the person who steals Christmas from kids. Good grief. I certainly don't want them to be angry at me (which they are), or to feel like they're being disrespected (which they do). But...I also don't want to foster church members who believe that the importance of worship hinges on everything going exactly as they want, and exactly as it always has. I don't want to be a part in turning these teenagers into elderly parishioners who hold the church in an iron grip and won't allow for necessary change. I don't want their faith to develop like a brick wall that will fall apart when one part of it gets pulled out later. We're compromising on the Christmas service, but it isn't going to look like it has for the last several decades. I want them to be able to bounce.