When I recall my own family traditions from childhood, I’m instantly flooded with wonderful memories and good feelings previously pushed into the past. It’s these moments of reflection that motivate me to create current traditions for my own family. Ultimately, I want to give my son similar memories of wonder and innocence; but, God willing, when I’m 80 I also want to be able to conjure up the memories and good feelings of my own motherhood. So here is my question. Are the best traditions the ones that “just happen,” or are more deliberate plans the way to go? Sometimes I feel like my best laid plans seriously fall flat, but at other times those spontaneous family moments are the things that really stick.
This holiday season, my son, husband and I created a ginger bread train (anything train is a winner right now) that adorned the kitchen table. We had fun creating it and it was a lot less infuriating than I first expected it to be, but who knew the real joy would be destroying it.
On New Year’s Eve at dinner, my son asked if he could eat the train. This sounded like a gross request to me (I don’t like ginger bread trains, no matter how many weeks old they happen to be), but I told him to go ahead and get a taste because it was “going away” in the morning. To my surprise, both my husband and son immediately indulged in the little choo-choo. . . and claimed it to be tasty. I laughed out loud and snapped photos of faces full of the candy laced cookies.
The whole thing was great fun and I announced this moment as the beginning of a new family tradition — the eating of the ginger bread on New Year’s Eve. Of course this means we have to first make the ginger bread every year. Wow, two new traditions at once, but I quickly had to wonder if they would withstand the years. Do I need to be the one to push the event on my family every Christmas or is it okay to skip it every now and then? I mean, seriously, what’s a good mom to do? What did my own mom do? What do most moms do? Do you deliberately create and maintain family traditions or do they just seem to happen?