Regular readers know I am doing 50 healthy things this year in honor of my 50th birthday. Here’s number 42 — family traditions.
My mother used to drive us a little crazy on Christmas Day. She made my sister and me take the exact same pictures every year before we could begin opening gifts. First, we had to sit side by side in the “gold” chair, which was upholstered in a lovely 70s-era crushed velvet. It was later reupholstered to a trendy 80s floral, but we still called it the “gold” chair. Then we had to sit under the tree, holding matching packages that were painstakingly wrapped with intricate homemade bows. Then we had to sit on the fireplace hearth. Then….you get the drift.
With each picture, both our excitement and impatience grew until it reached a near frenzied state by the time we actually opened gifts. As a child, and especially as a teenager, I’m sure I rolled my eyes at this “nonsense” and swore I would never subject my own children to the same type of torture. Yeah. Right.
It turns out, however, that I was blessed with children who actually embrace tradition. They have many fond memories of traditions on both sides.
We carried on one of our most important rituals this past Saturday night. When my husband’s mother passed away more than 30 years ago, my father-in-law was determined to carry on the tradition of gathering the family at his home for a holiday dinner. However, the only dish my father-in-law knew how to cook was chili – a far cry from the elaborate meals his wife used to make. The first year, I think everyone was a little skeptical, but over the years, it’s become a sacred tradition. My father-in-law, himself, passed away a few years ago. Now, we gather at my husband’s sister’s house instead. There’s been occasional talk of changing the menu, but believe it or not, the kids protest. For them, the thought of a Robinson family Christmas without Grandad’s chili is blasphemous.
We had the pleasure of welcoming a new little member to the family this year. As our family expands, it occurred to me how thankful I am for the commitment to tradition that builds special connections and makes it possible for our distinct family history to pass on to the next generation.