By definition, a tradition is “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.”
There are those traditions I share with other Americans: shooting off fireworks on the fourth of July, exchanging gifts on Christmas, and staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve to watch the ball drop in Time Square.
There are other traditions which are only celebrated within a family. These, for me, are the deepest memory makers and bonding times.
Growing up, Mom wrapped our birthday presents with the Sunday comics. We never even asked why, we just did it. It seemed that those friends of ours were being somehow jipped when Mom would have to go out and buy birthday wrapping paper for a birthday present. The love somehow seemed to be missing.
For some reason, I never passed on this tradition to my kids, but then again, we don’t get Sunday newspapers and gift bags are more common now-a-days.
A more recent tradition Paul, Isaiah, Elena and I have started is having a grill out on Thanksgiving Day. You see, Paul develops headaches after eating turkey. Since moving to California, we have had few Thanksgivings shared with family. Each member of the family enjoys steak, so we have begun eating grilled steaks and grilled asparagus.
Only in time will we see if this tradition will be passed on.
The Swanson family has an additional birthday song we sing after the traditional “Happy birthday to you…” song. The words go like this, “Today is your birthday. That’s what I’ve been told. What a wonderful birthday! You’re one more year old. On the cake, there’ll be candles all lighted for you, and the whole world is singing, ‘Happy birthday to you!’” Apparently, one of Paul’s sisters came back from Sunday school and taught this song to the family. The only problem: the sister didn’t know the tune. It has become quite a joy to pass on this “attempted” singing of this song to our kids.
It is being passed on to the third generation now.
I started a tradition on Isaiah’s first Christmas. We have begun adding an item to our Christmas tree skirt each year. It had been a pleasure to look back on the items added and recall the Christmases of the past. I look forward to many more Christmases and the opportunity, many, many years from now, of adding memories of my kids graduating high school, graduating college, getting married and even adding memories of grandchildren.
The thing I have come to realize about traditions, it doesn’t matter if you like our tradition or not. I don’t need anyone’s approval to carry on a tradition. The joy in tradition is that you get to claim the ones you want and pass on the ones you don’t.