So many of the traditions we cherish are from the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, usually influenced by our families and the locale we live in or are from. These traditions, both big and small, make up some of the best parts of our memories and the special moments we hope we pass on to our children.
Few of us go “over the river and through the woods” any more to get to our grandparents, but many still go – although these days it might be via an airplane. And, even if we don’t get to visit them, many of our family’s traditions come from our parents and grandparents. Or, at the least, the secret cranberry recipe or the stuffing ingredients or the pie that is a tradition in your family came from someone before you.
It’s those memories and the stories behind them that make traditions and the holidays they surround so special.
We know that children growing up in the Albuquerque area expect to enjoy the luminaria tradition on Christmas Eve, but we can safely assume the children in Minnesota or Nebraska don’t enjoy that particular tradition. It’s such an integral part of our lives, however, that it’s hard to imagine it isn’t part of everyone’s. Tamales and posole also play a big role in the holidays around here, but so does food from other cultures, such as the lasagna many folks eat on Christmas Eve. Another tradition our children expect is a parade filled with thousands of Christmas lights.
But traditions don’t have to be major events; they are often the little things that each family routinely does – often without fanfare – that are woven into the fabric of their lives. The little things such as what is served for breakfast on Christmas morning, whether Thanksgiving dinner is planned around football games or whether Black Friday shopping happens always or never. Frequently, it’s the little things that children remember and replicate when they grow up and combine them with their spouses’ traditions.
We wonder how many parents get called before every holiday with the age-old question, “Mom, how do you make …?” Genie remembers calling her mother several times for the family stuffing recipe because she couldn’t remember where she put it from year to year. Now we’re the ones getting the calls, and we love it. It’s a reminder that some of our traditions will be carried on.
We only wish that all children could grow up with traditions that they will want to pass on to their children. It’s such an important part of life and gives us all a sense of continuity – and, well, tradition. They enhance our memories, bringing back good thoughts about our childhood. It’s life’s continuum – parents teaching children by example and showing them how to cook or check the oil in the car, how to love and how to parent.
The world would be so much better if we knew every child could experience family traditions as they grow up.
So, during the next month, remember the wonder of our own traditions. Enjoy them and don’t become overwhelmed with the minutiae of the holiday season. Don’t let all the “things to do” become the focus of the season. We should all focus on the beauty of the season and the spiritual side of the holidays while we enjoy the traditions of our families.
Contact the Ryans at firstname.lastname@example.org.