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Traditions Keep A Family Strong -Part 2 in Series

Updated on December 27, 2013
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The Nucleus, The Core, The Heart

A Tradition is … according to Merriam-Webster.com
1. an inherited, established or customary pattern of thought, action or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom).
2. a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable.
3. the handing down of information, beliefs and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction

These are all good definitions of some of the best times a family can share together. Handing over from one generation to another within the family unit is what binds them together and what makes it possible to withstand those tough times … that can define the strength of a family. “Traditions are the Super Glue or the Gorilla Glue or that all important, can’t live without, Duck Tape”.

A Tradition is an essential piece of the puzzle. The pieces that make up the puzzle are varied and each one is unique, just as the family members are. But, when they all fit together just right, the picture is complete and will be recognized as a Family that “Sticks Together”!

Different Types of Traditions

The different kinds of Traditions are as wide-ranging as the members that make up a family, such as:

  • Food Traditions – whatever the occasion or gathering, there are certain foods that must be prepared and part of each type of gathering. For example, my family must always have Pecan Pie at Thanksgiving (see the link above).
  • When something is done within the family. For example, when the Christmas gifts will be opened…. Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
  • Certain things must be accomplished or done. For example, the bonfire at the end of the day during my family’s yearly Fish Fry.
  • A game or activity that must always be a part of certain times. For example, The Night Before Christmas story game a friend’s family always must play when they gather.
  • The list could go on and on and on … just as Traditions do.

The reasons for starting Traditions can be just as varied as the family that takes part in them. It’s a curious thing too, that sometimes those reasons are not even known. But it’s Tradition so it must be done! Right?!?

For Example: Many folks were busy in the kitchen preparing Christmas dinner. The Hostess was getting the nice large ham ready to go into the oven. One of the first things she did before scoring it and covering it with pineapples and cherries was to cut off a little on each end. Her teenage daughter was taking in all the steps to make sure she’d know just how to cook the family ham someday, when she would hostess her first Christmas Dinner. She ask her mother “Why do you cut off the ends of the ham that way, Mom?” To which Mom replied “Because that’s the way Mother always did it.” On a quest to find out the reason the ends of the ham were removed, she went to her Grandmother and asked her the same question. To her surprise, the same answer was given. Well, as luck would have it, Great Grandma was at this gathering too. She was no longer busy in the kitchen but telling stories to all the children, about times long ago. The teenager listened as her Great Grandma finished her story. When she was able to get her attention she asked the matriarch why she removed the ends off the ham before cooking it. Great Grandma pondered a little while, for it had been a few years since she had cooked a ham or hosted the Christmas Gathering. Then, proud that she remembered the reason, she said with a half giggle “Because the ham was always too large to fit in the pan, so I had to cut off some on the ends to make it fit.” She was just being a resourceful cook and taking care of her family with what was available to her. Little did she know she had started a “Food Tradition”.

Traditions?

How Have Traditions Played A Part In Your Life?

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Starting New Traditions

Sometimes, someone within the family unit gets an idea to start a new Tradition. Seems like a good idea when it was done but for all kinds of reasons it’s just not continued. This can sometimes happen. However, if the idea is well received, it’s been my experience, that it’s up to the initiator to make sure it continues. If not, it will just fall by the wayside and be forgotten and then one day some folks will be talking about that great idea we did on such and such and wonder … why it’s not still done. So be diligent in your Tradition starting endeavors for it may take a few years and some adjustments too, before it is actually a “Must Have” Tradition.

For example: Sometime in the mid 1990’s, my Mother came up with an idea for us to have a family Fish Fry on Mother’s Day weekend. The original thought was for the guys to do all the cooking, so the Mother’s could get a treat. So we made the plans and got together for this first fun family time. Fortunately, most of the fellas in my family like to cook. The guys did do most of the cooking, which was great. It turned out however, that lots of the preparation ended up being done by the women. But, that was ok, even though it was Mother’s Day. For a few years we had the Fish Fry on Mother’s Day. But for various reasons doing it on Mother’s Day just didn’t work out, so it has now evolved into a Spring Fish Fry. We have a great time of fellowship and now it last the whole week-end. The important thing is, now Family and Friends all look forward to this Tradition. There are even Traditions within the Fish Fry Tradition, such as the bonfire, the guys cooking the fish outdoors, my fried dill pickles and wonderful lemonade, my sister-in-law’s hush-puppies and the horseshoes competition. Lots of wonderful memories are always shared and we treasure this Tradition.

Well, this year, 2012, I've decided to start a new Christmas Tradition for my one and only grandson. Brody has several grandparents and other family that shower him with all kinds of loot. Getting things for him is always a fun adventure, but, I've tried very had to not be one of those kinds of grandparents. Because, I think, all that stuff is not necessary to develop meaningful relationships.

Most children today are surrounded by so many electronics and other stuff. Now there are even “techno painting” gadgets. Those things may be the future but I believe we should instill into each generation how important it is to use their imagination and their hands to be creative … without the need of batteries. They need to feel the paint or modeling clay or whatever the medium is...feel it in their hands. That’s all part of the process. When Brody visits, I make sure the TV is not always on and do my best to keep him away from my computer. How can a child’s imagination really develop with all the input, from someone else's mind, they are bombarded with? They need to develop their own thoughts and ideas and not some programmed show or game. (Well I guess that’s enough of that soapbox for this article about Traditions).

Dinos Made With Love

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A Gramma Tradition

Back to my Tradition idea, which is … Hand made items for Brody from his Gramma. He may not appreciate them now, but I know he will down the road, for I think most people would rather have a handmade item than something off an assembly line. Why everyone knows a child is usually happier with the box a gift comes in, rather than the expensive toy inside. Right now Brody is into dinosaurs. I found some small unpainted wooden ones that will be just the right size for his toddler hands. I've painted them colorful (see picture) with spots and movable eyes and I’m also making a special dinosaur box to store them in. Originally, I was going to make ornaments for him to keep and have to use when he’s all grown up and I may still do that. But I wanted him to be able to play with his gift. He’s still too young to understand the whole ornament thing, anyway. He’s now going on three and I wished I had started this Tradition on his first Christmas.

A Tradition Can Help Grow A Relationship

Hopefully, I will be around and free of arthritic hands for many years to come and be able to keep this Tradition alive for a long time for my one and only Grandchild. I decided to start this Tradition for many reasons:

  • It will be something special between me and Brody.
  • Brody will come to realize that he is very special to his Gramma.
  • Hopefully one day he will continue the Tradition with his offspring and when he does he can relay to them stories about his Gramma and our times together.
  • By giving him a handmade gift it’s a part of me.
  • This Tradition will help him know who I am and how important it is to me, to do what I can to be involved with his creative awareness.

Of Course, Santa has Traditions

Between my 2 sons and me we have a Christmas Tradition we’ve been doing since they were little boys. I’m not sure when I started it but it’s just not the Christmas season unless I get some Andes’s mints for one of them and Milky Way mini candy bars for the other one. I used to put them in their stockings but now I put them in a Santa Claus bag with and write on the tag “From Santa”. They are both in their forties now and have figured out when they see "From Santa" it's really from their crazy mom.

Somehow they always know what’s in the bag ... I didn't raise dummies you know.


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      Polly hall 4 years ago

      I loved it! I can't wait to see what's next

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      BFF 4 years ago

      Sounds just like you. Cherish your time with Brody...and I know u do. Wish my grandchildren lived here for me to start tradition. It is tradition that plants fuzzy memories. Love ya madly.