Thursday, November 7, 2013

New Traditions Won't Replace the Old

November is the beginning of the season when we celebrate important family traditions. We all have family traditions - good or bad, on purpose or on accident. They don't have to be handed down for generations to have meaning. Some traditions happen because Mama said so and others just evolve over the years.

Many of the traditions in my family came about because we discovered something we all enjoyed. If we enjoyed it the first time, it only made sense to adopt it as a tradition. Our family traditions have always enriched our lives, strengthened the relationships with our children, and created great memories.

Traditions also seem to bond us together as communities. This year, our American tradition of Thanksgiving comes at an opportune time. With the “non-traditional” way the government has been behaving lately, sitting down to share our turkey dinner with literally millions of our fellow Americans may be just what we need. We kind of wrap those special meal times around us – they feed so much more than our stomachs.
Traditions are just comfortable. Kids, even more than adults, count on traditions to carry them through the seasons. Even as the oldest of our kids (especially those teenagers) can’t seem to keep track of time, every toddler understands exactly what it means to have a birthday coming up in XX number of days!

I’m not na├»ve – I know traditions shift and change as kids get older. At a certain age, the birthday party may be negotiated for a bigger/better present (usually one that plugs in…). Even as a tradition is left behind, it doesn’t lose its meaning. Reading to your kids every night is just as important to the four year old who looks forward to it as to the teenager who looks back on it fondly.

This Holiday season will be the first we will celebrate without my beloved mother-in-law who passed away this year. I know our whole family is going to be embracing those long held traditions that she passed down with extra vigor. She will be there with us in spirit as we make her famous sugar cookies and share stories of all the previous years when she was covered in flour along with the rest of us!

I’m okay with traditions that don’t seem to be, well, very traditional. While we love pulling out our Christmas ornaments made with love by kids long grown up, we also have an annual tradition of scuba diving. Odd as it may seem, it’s something that makes us who we are as a family.

My husband and I grew up in the landlocked Midwest so scuba diving is a tradition we picked up as adults. We were both avid swimmers growing up and spent a lot of time at the lake where both families had vacation homes. We learned how to water-ski at a young age. Doug was a competitive swimmer, and I was a lifeguard. So scuba might not seem so far fetched….

It was when our family moved to Virginia that we started scuba diving. Now we have several serious divers in our family, our oldest daughter is an instructor, our youngest daughter is a master diver. And now we’re into the third generation - my grandson got his certification not too long ago.

For the past several years, we have had the tradition of a family dive trip in late summer or early fall. Our trips have been all over the Caribbean and the Florida Keys. We even swam with the sharks this past year. What some people do for fun, right? This year however, we broke our tradition and did not take a family dive trip. We are saving all our travel up for the big wedding on March 1, 2014 when our youngest daughter Brittany will be taking the first steps in building traditions for her new family.

And, in the long-standing tradition of daughter’s weddings, I FINALLY found my perfect “mother of the bride” dress. Truly something to be thankful for! I’ll admit it was a six-month ordeal, and I’m so happy it is finally over. The problem is that as soon as my husband and daughter gave the dress their blessings, I realized I now have to start shopping for shoes.

I guess traditions have their burdens – but working for it means a tradition is all the more meaningful when you share it with your loved ones!

‘Til December, Happy Parenting!

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