Traditions New and Old
In our family, we value traditions. We take comfort in doing the same thing on the same days year after year. Our children never cease to amaze with their vociferous objections to the whiff of even a slight change in menu or schedule. They believe that what they have come to know has always been—for generations and generations. And we encourage those beliefs. Because even though they are not exactly true, we had them too.
Though our traditions have, of course, morphed over time, for the most part they still remain true to their birthrights. For example, our extended family always tries to come together on the bigger holidays, but our success rate has diminished as we have lost control of childrens' schedules. Nonetheless, there is still a tinge of regret if we aren't where we think we should be.
Stockings on Christmas morning have always been a thing, although the nuts and oranges in Dad’s knee high socks have been replaced by tiny gadgets and mints in felt or embroidered vessels which hold far more loot. Thanksgiving and Christmas used to be turkey and Lancers or Mateus. Thanksgiving is still turkey of course, but Christmas is now usually some form of meat and the wines on both occasions are way better.
This year, there are two big changes—both a bit bittersweet. When we were young, our holidays were celebrated with cousins with whom we grew up. When the center of their family, and the matriarch and patriarch, moved to Washington, for most years it was too much to make the trek. This year, the last of that generation passed away peacefully at the lovely age of 99. Which brought us all together again--hopefully, renewing an old tradition.
The other is that Christmas will be at our new home in New York City. Thankfully, many of the children now live here, and so not having sufficient room for many overnight guests isn't as much of an issue as it could be. But we are still going to have to figure out what the new traditions will be. Chinese food, wrapping presents and old movies on Christmas eve—hopefully stays. Stockings, bagels and lox on Christmas morning also may remain the same, though some may have to cross town (in their PJs perhaps) to get here. We will miss our old house and the memories shared with those now gone. But together we will create new ones which we will also treasure.
Our traditions have changed over time, but they are still our traditions. And the most important of all of them is that they are just another piece of the fabric that binds us together. Just as we tell our children stories of how it was in the old days when we were growing up, we take comfort that our children will have their own stories to keep the passing on passing on.