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Traditions for every day

In Other Words

 


As we’ve settled into the school year, our house, like houses across America, has settled into a routine. Certain days call for certain activities, and many hours of each day fall into expected patterns. One of the first things that my daughter will ask in the mornings is, “Mommy, what are we doing today?” She’s always happiest when it is a day that she knows what to expect.

Children take their cues on what to expect from their lives from their parents. But it is not just our job to demonstrate how to get to school on time or what to tick off on the to-do list, it is also up to us, as parents, to demonstrate what we value in our days and in our lives.

With the advent of the holiday season, I think it is important to remember that it is not just the daily routines and traditions that are important to pass along to our children, but the seasonal one’s as well.

So much of what drives the seasonal fluctuations in our lives are our traditions: what we eat, where we go, whom we visit, what to expect.

For me, the holidays are about so much more than just one day. It is about a thousand tiny daily rituals that add up to an entire season full of extra sparkle. It is about smoking a turkey and making my mother’s stuffing. It is about sitting around a laughing table with loved ones and sharing a thankful meal. It is about finding the perfect tree and stringing colorful lights upon it. It is about setting up the train set and baking cookies, wrapping presents and finding the right gift for every person on my list.

One of my favorite traditions is sitting down with my family and making tamales, a tradition passed down from my great-grandmother who immigrated from Mexico. One hundred years later, her descendants still sit around a large table together every holiday season and carefully make this delicious meal. As with many holiday traditions, it is more than the lure of a tasty meal that draws us to return to this tradition. It is about being with family and continuing a long and cherished tradition. It is about making new memories and sharing old ones, retelling tales we hear almost every year, yet still make us laugh or cry.

As my daughter gets older, I delight in passing down these traditions, sharing in these seasonal rituals, and adding to them. I know each year we add to our own traditions to remember for future years, sitting around a table and laughing at the memory of this year.

At the start of every holiday season, I recognize that in a blink of an eye it will be over. I also know that the week after the holidays are over, I will experience a simultaneous sigh of relief that it is back to business as usual and a sigh of regret that it all passed so quickly.

Next week, before we are bombarded by the sparkly excess of December, I hope to take a moment for a day of appreciation, a word that takes on new meaning with each passing year. What we experience and expect each holiday season may be tied up in small, daily rituals, but it is the larger seasonal traditions that drive us and in the end, tie us together.

 

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