I write this post through tears today as I realize the impact our traditions can have on those around us. This realization has made me quite introspective about our legacies and making our days count, but I will leave that for another day’s posting.
I had just read an email from my son’s family. They wanted to let us know that they had just celebrated Aiya’s (their nanny) birthday. After serving cake (an uncommon, special treat in her culture) they went around the table and shared a thought or two about why they liked the birthday guest. It was a memorable, bonding experience for everyone. They said it also made them miss us very much! What mother and grandmother doesn’t enjoy hearing those words if distance has to separate your lives?
I honestly can’t remember when we started the birthday tradition of taking turns around the table to share what we like about the birthday person and finishing the tradition with the celebrant sharing why they like themselves. I know it has been long enough that no one can remember when we first uttered our birthday kindnesses. What I do know is it is a special and time-honored tradition. My family looks forward to it. I also think birthday guests celebrating their day in our home appreciate the opportunity to be showered with words of affirmation and love.
I realize that my children may not carry on all the traditions we have in our family, but it made me realize it is important to have some they can choose to carry on for their own families. This helps ensure the verbal legacy of our family. Traditions give us the opportunity that three generations from now a family member will be explaining the importance and the history and details of how the tradition got started.
Traditions, whether they are vacations, holiday events, celebrations, religious observations, or a favorite food, they have the ability to bring us together. It makes us feel a part of something larger than ourselves. In some strange way, participating in a tradition can give us stability, a consistency, something we can count on in a world that is ever changing.
My mom’s mother, my Gram, made a delicious roast with homemade noodles. My mom also makes the dish and now I also prepare it on occasion for my family. The dough is prepared, later rolled out on the table, noodle strips cut from the dough and then placed in the gravy to cook and later ladled on top of mashed potatoes beside the succulent roast. Even my children who find noodles not their favorite dish, get excited and look forward to the meal of noodles. It’s an unspoken knowledge of the bonding, the history, the underlying understanding of the importance of family, the tradition they represent. And while the smell of dinner turns us in the direction of the table, it is the tradition that marks our steps.