I was sitting on the edge of my bed folding up some laundry yesterday, when I became a bit undone with nostalgia for some old family traditions from my childhood. There I was almost drowning in a sea of piping hot clothes from the dryer, Cool Runnings was playing on the television, and the boys were running around the room rearranging everything from knickknacks on the nightstand to everything else on our dresser. Their favorite movie, Alvin & the Chipmunks, was playing on my laptop to keep them entertained while I folded, and every now and then they’d interject on their favorite parts by screaming the words into each other’s faces. They followed that up by laughing so hard at one another they could barely stand. Oddly enough, while all of this was raging, I was running down my Thanksgiving menu in my head.
Watching my boys laugh and josh around with each other took me back to some of the traditional fun my siblings and I, and even close relatives, would have while we were growing up. Around this time of the year, me, my sister, and my cousin would be planning and shopping for our Thanksgiving outfits. We’d also be stocking up on film to photograph one another to no end. Every photo had to be triple exposure too. Someone in the family would be taking responsibility for collecting the names for the secret Santa game that almost the entire family enjoyed each Christmas. We drew names on Thanksgiving and threatened exile to anyone who spilled the beans on their secret person. It was a covert operation. My mom would be stock piling sweet potatoes for all of the pies she was planning to bake and give away to family and friends. We would also be eyeing the biggest and best Christmas tree for mounting the day after Thanksgiving. It always had to be either a Frazier Fir or a Blue Spruce. My mom knew how to pick’em too. And, forget about buying new ornaments each year. Uh uh! My mom broke out her famous three wise men ornaments with the beautiful red bows with gold trimming and the classic white lights. We had the baddest Christmas tree on the block every year. Well, at least we thought so. Oh, and let me not forget us hawking the Sunday paper for that holiday coupon to take pictures at Sears. I believe it was for $7 and some change with a free sitting and a free 8×10. Ha!
How sweet was it to get $100 cash for a Christmas gift and gift certificates for the AMC at Tyrone every year. After stuffing ourselves on Christmas food, cakes, pies, and cookies, we’d ride our bikes all over town to people’s houses. And then later that evening, we’d all hit a movie. The next day, we would blow all of our money at the mall on .99c cassette tapes at the music store, new outfits, and girly accessories. And, we always hit the .99 cent menu at the Wendy’s on the way out. Man! We had some cool childhood traditions.
This got me to thinking. In this day and age, where a large number of children are only interested in video games and cellphones, how do families manage to throw in a tradition or two? What cool family traditions have my husband and I started and will continue doing with our children, while they are yet young, that they can pass on to their children? I’ve started making a list.
I believe upholding some positive forms of family tradition sets a track back to foundational values when our children grow up and away or even when families tend to grow apart. There’s something about what we used to do as a family that always brings things back together.