Friday, April 5, 2013


After getting his braces taken off a few days ago, my youngest son made me laugh when he said that he had wished he had told his orthodontist to leave “the tooth” a little crooked.  You see, on one side of my family there is a trait we all have in common; one bottom tooth in the same spot that is crooked; we call it, “the tooth”.  I guess he was saying that he was sorry to have lost that part that signified his “belonging”.
We all carry within us our familial traits; some good; some, not so much.  Some traits are genetic (like “the tooth”) and some are behaviorally or culturally inherited.  Some, we want to carry on, but today, I’d like to address those traits we don’t want to keep or pass on to the next generations. 
Genetic traits, usually having to do with our looks or health are not easy to change.  With the accessibility of braces, plastic surgery and exercise, we can change a few things, but it’s a little more difficult when it comes to diseases or disorders.  However, by choosing to educate ourselves, live a healthier lifestyle and getting regular check-ups, the effects to some diseases or disorders can be lessened if not altogether avoided.
What makes behavioral and cultural traits difficult to change is first recognizing what the traits are and secondly, deciding to change.  Sometimes we are comfortable and don’t want to take necessary steps to do so or we feel like we would be letting go of some of our identity if we did.  Sometimes we feel pressure from our family members who don’t see the value of our decision and who don’t want to or know how to change.  Even after deciding to change despite the pressure, it still takes some education, accountability and diligence to not fall back onto a familiar path.
However, there’s nothing that forces us have to continue on with a negative or destructive “inheritance”.  Who says we cannot write ourselves and our future generations a new legacy?  Let’s decide to keep the good that our ancestors left us, but change the other that does not make our lineage better.  Forgive the past, let it go and then forge toward the future.  Let’s vow to leave a good legacy, by passing down a heritage of betterment. 
Braces not required.

-Tessa L. Charles

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