So, today’s topic is Fall Traditions.
I feel like rather than talk about our specific traditions, I thought I would instead tackle the topic of TRADITIONS.
I’m a product of a traditional environment; in every sense of the word. I personally believe that kids thrive on traditions. For me, it falls in the same category as a schedule for your baby.
I love predictability, something to count on, the comfort that comes from “knowing” and “expecting”. And, ill be perfectly honest that I’m not a fan of change or changing traditions. Its probably something that comes across as a fault. It does make me fall into the “well, we’ve always done it this way” category. Which, with family traditions may be ok but when that pattern of behavior seeps over into other parts of life I have to remind myself to throw a toddler style temper tantrum. Change can be good and often time turns out to the avenue to a new love, vantage point, friend, passion, etc.
You see, as a kid, I learned early that having something to “count on” was so healthy. I know my parents set boundaries, but the reward of that environment was having a constant, thriving home life. one where love was spelled out with consequences and rewards. Where family nights were every night, not just a point we made to have together once a month. Where home cooked meals developed our love language and quilt forts were our favorite way to spend the weekend.
And still within this environment, we had all kinds of traditions.
-Halloween, as you learned yesterday was the night we dressed up and went to church to the fall festival
-we carved pumpkins
-we dipped Nutter Butters in white chocolate to make ghost
-We begged mom to take treats to our class for harvest parties and usually she showed up to the party instead of just sending then to school
-we gathered as a family for thanksgiving-on Wednesday evening, my grandmother always put a pot of vegetable stew on and everyone could have a bowl with homemade cornbread as they arrived at her house.
-we had the full spread for lunch and while the women cleaned, the men would gather in the living room and watch football and play dog pile.
-as the kids got bored, or if the game was bad, we would meander to the back yard for our own game of football or “rides” in the wheel barrow (serious probably my favorite moment ever fall)
-in the afternoon, my mom always planned an afternoon snack project and a craft activity. All the grand kids would bake something. she would give the instructions and we would do all the work. It was of course usually some sort of gooey chocolate dessert, but we still ask when we show up to thanksgiving what the afternoon snack is
-at night we would gather in the living room and play games or the kids would go to sleep on the cots while the parents stayed up and played the “Newly Wed Game”. Once we were old enough to stay up for that, they quit playing…I think there were too many “married people” secrets revealed!
-on Friday, my granddad would smoke Hot Links and Hamburgers and we would have all the trimmings before everyone began to disperse.
THOSE REALLY WERE THE BEST DAYS AND MAKE ME WANT TO GET IN THE CAR AND DRIVE TO EAST TEXAS RIGHT NOW!!!!
I find now, that as I learn of the traditions other families did, I mention them and sometimes we are able to work them in – things like Advent, pumpkin patches, road trips, tailgating, family photo cards, making gingerbread houses.
However, I struggle with the thought of a “new tradition”. As our families have grown, grown up and changed the traditions that fill this time of year have changed as well. It is something you kinda know is always coming, but you can never anticipate. Over the last couple years, we have changed how we do holidays. Its hard. And, I think I put pressure on my mom to make some predictability in our holiday. Its not fair, but its a monster that was created. And, my parents work hard to make holidays perfect. I think the next generation waits for grand kids to come and develop traditions around them. And so, the cycle begins again and makes my point complete.
As an adult, I find myself looking at tradition in a different way. Where as a child, I wanted the fun and predictability that came from these traditions, now I want the legacy and family intimacy that comes from shared moments together. I think you as you grow older, you realize how life changes and how to take everything from each moment given. I love the big family prayer that happens when we gather in the kitchen before Thanksgiving dinner. Its sad that it takes that moment for us to reflect on our year and find what, in that moment, we are grateful for. (I cry!)
But, here’s a question, how long do you have to do something together for it to be a tradition? I think tradition comes from an exclusive repetition of years numbering more than 5, but really I think tradition falls into categories. You know like an “old family tradition”, or “my family always”, or “when I was a kid”, or “our new tradition”. Just curious how deep a tradition has to be for it to stick.
As I close, here’s my challenge. Create tradition. Don’t be afraid to start a new tradition this year and try to establish something you’ve always wanted to do. Be grateful for parents and families who have built tradition for you. Carry on tradition. Involve yourself in traditions. Establish them.
Where I come from, tradition = memories and memories really are the only thing we carry for a lifetime.