So much so that before I even order it, I can picture it in my head and through all my senses. The aroma of the toasty english muffin, perfectly cooked and fluffy egg, and sizzling sausage.... the mini cannister of whipped margarine with the imprint of the famous "M" (for McDonald's)... the hotcake syrup, and even the foamy container it sits in that has not changed... to this day.
I've always loved McDonald's, ever since I was a kid and the happy meal toys and box brightened my day. Nothing could ever convince me that McDonald's was bad, not even a documentary which in my opinion just is poor choice (even I do not eat McDonald's everyday). The perfect combination of the yellow and red, the oh so familiar golden arches are in fact a staple in my life of fast food options. My fondest memories derived from childhood photos are of me atop the different McDonald playground rides and since I quickly became too big for many of the pool of colored ball playgrounds (height does that for you), I often miss it and feel like many memories yet to be made were swiped from me.
I guess you could say Mickey D's was a tradition I became accustomed to growing up. It was always a weekend "special" if we were allowed to eat there and between my chicken nugget sauces to the fish filet to the big mac, the choices to a child were endless.
One tradition I didn't witness much growing up is that of a typical non-LDS wedding complete with a wedding march, the fancy ceremony set up, the bride walking down the aisle with her father and the vows. Try as I might, I can't remember ever witnessing such an event until I was in high school when all I could think of is when it was ending and all I could look at was my teal pager (yeah, I was pretty cool, and I could read pager number text too....53121017574).
So when my college friend, also a recent convert, began sharing with me her frustrations of the picturesque wedding she imagined since she was a child, the fairytale of her father giving her away after walking her down the aisle, I tried to emphathize but found it hard. It was probably hard for my parents not to witness the temple sealing, but they know it is sacred and different from a non-LDS wedding ceremony. Yet given our limited experience with ceremony weddings, they did not seem to mind as long as I wore a red qi-pao (traditional Chinese dress) and they were able to have their friends all come and see me dressed up with my groom. I remember thinking hard before offering advice, unsure of what to say to my friend. I was hopeful Heavenly Father and the Spirit would help me, and the only thing I could offer was, "well, you're marrying one awesome Priesthood holder and your fairytale will be beyond just a day." I didn't mean to imply that non-LDS marriages don't last, I only meant to emphasize how important the role of a woman and man are based on the truths that we have and understand to be true and eternal. I didn't mean to imply that a non-LDS marriage would result in cacaphony while a LDS marriage would be harmonious, only that the common beliefs we hold as Mormons helps us instill values and standards in our home, our family and our posterity and that foundation is so strong that many of us don't date for long before we're engaged. It seemed to strike a cord with her and try as she would to abandon the memories of the traditional wedding she always envisioned for herself, it would be hard. Only I know she has a secret weapon, the power of prayer and the comfort that our Saviour can give her to rise above the expectations and image of what she once thought would be her wedding. Plus, it is only one day... although if I had to give up my Mickey D's breakfasts forever... I would also be quite sad because it is a tradition I grew up with, love and don't see the harm of it. Likewise, she probably does not think there is any harm in having a ring ceremony with her father walking her down the aisle, but that will be a decision she will make with her fiance and I will be right there supporting her (she asked me to be a bridesmaid hehe)
When it comes down to it, traditions are hard to break as tradition becomes culture becomes habit becomes life as we know it. So many people look at our Mormon traditions and criticize it for being too strict, too binding and too conservative. But our world is slowly falling in standard - just take a look at the stuff on television now... the bad words of yesterday which were censored, now roam freely on normal (not Cable) tv.
Another example would be all the casual and premarital sex that seems to be superfluous in the media, and a new symbol of independence and maturity. Chastity is old school, uncool and not hip. Funny thing about hip things.... they tend to not last through time. I know there is a common belief held by non-members that Mormons just get married young because they want to have sex. That is the most immature, unbelievable, and unfounded rebuttal to the fact that we can figure out so much more about our relationships absent the mind boggling confusion, frustration, and feelings of unworthiness of intimacy that results from premarital sex. Yet it seems useless to attempt to explain that our standards are different without coming across as self righteous or judgmental despite the fact that their very initial comment was exactly that.
At the end of the day, no tradition, culture, value, standard, or belief should make or break what you do - unless it comes from truth. And nobody can tell you what's true or not except for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and it is through the Spirit that they will testify of these things. Don't try to convince yourself that you know better or that the World knows better ... only Heavenly Father knows.