Family Traditions: Every Family has at Least One
Yesterday I took the boys to our favorite restaurant to eat our favorite meal, crêpes. I ordered a German Apple Strudel crêpe while the boys each had a ham and cheese one. As we ate, and were sitting at our favorite table, I reflected on what a simple and enjoyable tradition eating crêpes at that restaurant is for us. When, on any given day, the words “Let’s go get crêpes!” comes out of my mouth and the boys say “Yaaaay!” I smile and feel rewarded for the chance to share the lunchtime pleasure with them. It’s a regular activity we do together, and I’m sure, as the boys grow, they’ll associate this time and this restaurant with their dear old dad. Whenever they eat a crêpe they’ll remember how we used to do it together and how fun that was. That’s what family traditions are all about, sharing a secret that bonds your family closer together. We have Christmas traditions, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Easter traditions, too. Do we act out these traditions because our lives would fall apart without them? No, our lives would go on. These simple traditions are like inside jokes we share which other people can witness but only we can truly appreciate. They are stress relieving indulgences.
Traditions Help Mark the Passage of Time:
Whenever we move, and we’ve moved a lot, we stumble into new, quirky family traditions. In Waunakee, Wisconsin, we found ourselves going to get ice cream every Friday at a place called The Funky Bean. Neil and Alan still talk about how they want to move back so we can go to the Funky Bean again (I think it has a different name now though). In Texas we had our Monday morning walks around the Grapevine Mills Mall. We’d get there before the stores opened and I’d let the boys wander to their hearts’ content. Neil was only 3 at the time yet he insists he still remembers it. We lived next to a woodsy bike path when we were in Minnesota. That path meandered for two miles through the forest and spat us out in front of a Pizza place. Wednesday evenings saw me on my bike, and the boys being towed in the Burley, on our way to get pizza. I could hit 30 mph and the boys screamed and giggled the whole way. Getting there was half the fun.
All of those small family traditions have helped, in their own way, to commemorate significant eras in our ongoing parallel lives. It’s those repeated actions that allow us to remember the fun times, to help solidify the bond we have between us. I think that’s why people create traditions in the first place. Life can be a series of chaotic changes, but if we anchor it all together with a few pleasant constants, we’re happy. Likewise, our kids grow so quickly that it’s nice to have some things that don’t change. I think we create traditions to help us remember the things we want to remember and to help us through an otherwise tumultuous aging process. When I’m 60 and the boys are 31 and 32, I won’t be able to pick them up, and we won’t play on the swings anymore (probably won’t). But, we will always be able to eat crêpes together or ride on that bike path or walk around a mall. And, while we’re doing these traditional activities I’ll remember my two little boys and they’ll reminisce about their youth, and we’ll all be happy with the memories we’ve created.