A tradition is a custom or belief passed from generation to generation. When I think of the word tradition it makes me think of holidays; Hannukah, Easter, Christmas, Passover, New Years Eve, Memorial Day and my favorite July 4th. I have a lot of memories celebrating holidays in ways that were passed down and have spent a lot of time creating traditions for my family to pass down. What traditions do you have? What traditions do you want to create for the next generations? These are important questions because the way we relate to the world is often an extension of the way we connect to our family.
Wearing Christmas jammies, eating BBQ beef and broccoli on halloween, Having my aunt Joyce recite the 9 months of childbirth, these are all traditions that were passed down to me. But why are traditions so important, why do we put such an emphasis continuing some and cringe with anxiety about the pressure of others. Growing up my grandparents celebrated Christmas in the way of tradition more than religion. We had a sleepover with our cousins, wore matching pajamas (Lanz nighties), opened stockings and what seemed like a million presents, and ate bacon, donuts and crispy hash browns. This tradition was about family and spending time making memories, not about religion. Traditions unfold your family values in an experiential way. I didn’t think that my family was christian because we celebrated Christmas but I know that they valued good food and togetherness. The matching outfits have been something that I have carried down to my family, when we are all wearing the same thing we are part of the same crew, everyone knows we are together, family
My mom always made BBQ beef and broccoli on Halloween every year. No, I don’t make it every year for my family, this year we had pizza and candy, but every time I see BBQ beef I am reminded of a special time in my childhood. While these feelings are recalled, I smile, and almost feel excited to go ring doorbells. My dad also took of two weeks every August to spend time together in Southern Michigan. This was a new tradition started by my parents, and something I include my kids in. We go to Michigan and spend tons of family time playing games, swimming, walking, picking blueberries. It’s a haul to get to MI from Southern CA, but this tradition of making family time a priority was modeled for me. My family might not have had collections passed down but we found a way to share in a different way.
I love the idea of tradition, having customs to pass on and share with my family. I feel like having these customs illustrates to my daughters what I value. We always talk about gratitude, inclusivity and kindness so of course my customs come with large celebrations of all things; Passover, Easter, July 4th, New Years Eve. We invite loved ones and make sure that anyone who wants to come is welcome at our house. This is one of the places my values align with my customs, creating new traditions for my family.
So, what is a tradition that isn’t tied to a holiday or religion. That took more thought, a lot of the things that quickly came to mind were around cultural celebrations. Can where we sit at the table be a tradition? I don’t know but in the family I grew up in we all sat in the same place every night for dinner and my family does the same. Is it a tradition that we order out or go out every Saturday night? I think so, we value taking the night off.
There are some traditions that no longer work, and that have pain attached. Those are ok to stop, not all traditions need to be passed down from generation to generation. We were not allowed to decorate our house during December growing up, that no longer works for my family, and we hang ALL THE LIGHTS. My parents made us study without music and supervised, that doesn’t sit well with my husband, anything else feels foreign because of my upbringing, we will decide what our tradition will be as my kids get older.
This time has left me with a lot of time and no time. But, I am thinking about what I am passing on to my children. Am I sharing traditions that align with our current values, and am I releasing the ones that no longer serve us. We all come to the table with ideas about the way things should be, it’s painful to look and let go of some of those. What traditions are you sharing with the next generation? And what is leaving?