Tuesday, December 1, 2009

WWW: Traditions

Tradition- the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice. Traditions root us. Traditions tie us together. Traditions provide comfort and familiarity. This is the season when traditions come to the forefront. The way we decorate, the things we do around town, the food we eat, the gifts we give and receive, the songs we sing, the cards we send, the gatherings we attend. But what about our traditions beyond the holiday season? I've often lamented that I felt like I didn't have a lot of family traditions to pull from. But I do. That definition says it is a handing down of statements and beliefs. My mom and I didn't have much. But there are certainly things that I continue that my mom and I did... and I have to wonder what traditions she brought to our relationship. Maybe it is dinner every night at the family table. Maybe it is a special breakfast each Saturday. Maybe it's lunch after church each Sunday. Maybe it's going to church each Sunday. Maybe it's the way you butter your bread. Maybe it's the movies you enjoy. Maybe it’s staying up to watch the Ball drop to ring in the New Year. Maybe it’s a special meal or activity to recognize birthdays. My dad has a traditional way of recognizing special occasions. It is sometimes a bit of a family joke- but it’s something we all treasure, too. My dad recognizes all special occasions with an index card and a silver dollar. A brief note, signed with a “God Bless,” and a silver dollar stamped in the current year. I have a drawer full of cards and coins. We all learn from our childhoods and we bring things from those experiences forward with us. What about starting new traditions? How repetitious does it need to be before it is considered a tradition? When 2 people come together to make a family, new traditions have to be formed. Jeff brought his own expectations and I brought mine. We found a way to blend them together- some things are blended, some things are new. A new tradition that we started a couple of years ago is that of specific Christmas Eve gifts for our kids. We spend Christmas Eve with Jeff's family and then come home. At that point, the kids get to open 2 presents- new pajamas and their annual ornament. I love these new traditions. I love the opportunity for Jeff and I to work to find the exact right pajamas... that special ornament that really represents that child for that year. This year- matching pj's from Old Navy. I not only know that the kids will look adorable, but I think they will be excited to be in matching outfits.

redpjs bluepjs What are your traditions? What beliefs or customs have been handed down to you? Is the sense of tradition stronger at the holidays? What are unique traditions in your family?


Garret said...

We always opened all gifts on Christmas Eve because Christmas day we had to be up early and had to travel a couple hours away to spend with relatives. Christmas Eve became my immediate family's real holiday time. We still do it that way, 39 years later!

Joanie said...

As a kid, we had a tradition of putting the tree in the stand and getting out the ornaments, but letting Santa decorate the tree for us, so we'd see it for the first time on Christmas morning with all the gifts. That stopped the year we had a Christmas Eve blizzard and my dad got home from his Saturday evening job at 5 am instead of 11 pm... and we were up at 7! From then on, we helped Santa and decorated the tree for him!

Alison said...

I remember an assignment in grade school asking us to describe our family's Christmas traditions. All of us said, "Our family doesn't have any traditions!" We were all thinking nights of caroling, entire days of baking, heartwarming family reunions. That poor teacher!

Only much later did I recognize tradition in what I thought of as habit: Christmas Eve services, extra presents from Santa overnight, opening our stockings while waiting for Mom and Dad to wake up, and three against Mom's one for eating breakfast before opening gifts. (Honestly, what was she thinking??)

Miss Chef and I have developed our own traditions largely without thought, but I treasure them even more than my childhood traditions. These were created in tandem, with pleasure, and they highlight the fact that we have, indeed, created a real life together. One worth savoring.