05 December, 2008

Thoughts on Traditions

I love hearing about the traditions of other people – the caroling, the travel, the little games and special little characteristics that make each family a bit different or that create those special memories for a child.  Whether it is a friend’s wife always (and I mean always) making this sweet potato/cookie dish or Susan and her learning to master the construction of a gingerbread house, each story delights me to no end. 

I believe in traditions.  My childhood is filled with fond memories of the things we did each year, from new pajamas on Christmas to playing games throughout Christmas day to spending Sunday afternoons in the forest and sneaking up in the middle of the night to see what Santa brought.  There were Mexican meals for Christmas Eve and fabulous stuffing Christmas day following my grandfather’s pancakes (still a tradition – the pancakes that is).  In my memory, the holidays were filled with tradition… but now, not so much.   

From the moment I discovered I would be a single parent living away from family, I started considering traditions.  How did I want to raise my child?  What traditions did I want to create or continue?  How did I want her to remember her childhood?

I had few answers.  Nine years later, I have few answers.  I had great ideas at times, but building a tradition is a bit more complex than I ever could have imagined.  They seem to be more of something that happens out of habit or purely by accident over something that is engineered.  And how many times does something have to happen before it is tradition?  How many years are required? 

Sometimes I wonder if my daughter enjoys any traditions.  Our life is fairly odd to the extent that sometimes it feels as if I have thrown everything up into the air waiting to see how it will land. 

And then I hear comments like this “I get to look forward to a road trip for my birthday.” 

Totally without my meaning to do so, the Diva is in the midst of a road trip on her birthday.  Although we do our best not to travel on that day specifically, it doesn’t always work.  It appears that we have traveled more on her birthday than not.  And so, it has become a bit of a tradition – not one we like, but a tradition all the same. 

Of late I have also heard “We are never home for Christmas”

Alas, another tradition that has formed out of necessity over desire.  We spend the holiday with my grandparents if possible.  This is because I believe it is important for the Diva to know them just as I believe it is important for them to know her.  It is about family being together.  Due to age and distance, this means that we travel. 

“We always go there for Thanksgiving”

Why yes, we do.  Another accidental tradition that I thought everyone enjoyed… but maybe not.  As there are just four of us for the holiday feast, we eat out.  This allows everyone to have what they want for dinner and no one has to cook or clean – a real treat.  This started before the Diva was born, but she doesn’t realize that.  Believe it or not, there are people in my family who just don’t like turkey that much!

There are those she likes too – “Papa and I will go Rock Climbing”


From the day she started rock climbing, this has been the one activity that the Diva shares with my dad.  She will go with me, but it is really something that belongs to her and Papa.  Thus, whenever my dad comes, they hit the wall at least once during his visit.  If they play it right, they can fit in two or three trips to the gym.  This year she is trying a few gyms in other states… and her Papa is right there with her!

We are starting a few little traditions – we hit the beach during the summer, travel about every other Thanksgiving (considering Vancouver for next year), and do tea whenever we are in Albuquerque.  These are things she enjoys.  Now she is more a part of the tradition making process, perhaps, which may prove to be a positive in our lives. 

If I look at my life, the life I have created with and for my daughter, traditions are lacking.  In other words, she might look back on her childhood and see tradition where I see naught from where I stand today.  Granted, every Sunday after her performance we go out to dinner with a family friend who has not missed a single ballet performance in the Diva’s 7 years of dancing.  That is a tradition.  But, other than that… I wonder just what my daughter will remember or what she will consider to be tradition. 

Do you have traditions?  I would love to hear about them – I need ideas!!


Mike said...

You've won a major award just go to my blog for info.

T said...

My family and I have attended a Christmas festival every year since before my father was even born!!! We slacked off for years when the kids were all babies but we try to at least attend a local Christmas festival... we love parades, festival food, seeing Santa, live music... We also get together and take holiday photos with my sister and her children every year at the same place. We always visit the pumpkin patch before Halloween. Like you said, some traditions just happen. Without any planning.

I say just aim for being happy and present. That in itself creates great memories!

Seven Seas said...

My mother has bought one special ornament each year since my birth. I have kept up this tradition for 34 years so far, and have passed it on to my kid sister.