When you hear the word 'tradition” do you hear the song from Fiddler on the Roof? I do. I avoided that movie for the longest time because “it’s a musical” (you must imagine Larry the Cucumber saying this from the Veggie Tale Lyle the Kindly Viking)
I may not care for many musicals, but I do like traditions. This week’s topic for the Blog Cruise is Family Celebrations and Holiday Traditions. We all have special things that we do or foods that we eat that make family time special.
I am really looking forward to Thanksgiving. Known as Turkey Day by many, this holiday is so much more than just turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. For years this has been my family’s favorite day to celebrate. This is the day that we give thanks to God for *all* that He has done for us and all that He has given us.
Some years we have even given “thanksgiving gifts”. It’s been a few years since the girls have received gifts but this year, thanks to the TOS Review Crew, they’ll be getting a gift. The gift this year supports another long time family Thanksgiving tradition: game playing. We love board games. We spend the whole day playing different games. This year we’ll be trying out the new product for the Review Crew but I suspect that we’ll also be pulling out some family favorites.
After we feast on some perfectly roasted turkey and mashed potatoes that do not need to be dressed up with gravy, we’ll watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving DVD.
For the western Christian world Thanksgiving weekend flows into the first week of Advent. For Orthodox Christians following the revised calendar, Advent begins November 15. As I type this blog I look around the room I spot several fall harvest or Thanksgiving theme decorations. In stark contrast stands the out of place Advent Chain. 7 links shorter than it was on November 15, it hangs next to the door as a reminder that we are preparing our hearts for the coming Savior. Each link contains a bible verse or passage that relates to the Incarnation of Christ. Though this is a fairly new tradition for my family, it is a tradition we enjoy. In the evenings we gather in the living room and Daddy reads the passage from the Bible. We’re not always consist with reading each evening. Usually we skip a night or two and then read 2 or 3 links.
When I was growing up I loved Christmas. We would have an advent wreath and a Christmas Tree and presents and a turkey dinner. My husband and I wanted Christmas to be very special for our children as well. We adopted some traditions from his family and some we discovered on our own. And then, for awhile, we did not celebrate Christmas at all. Now that we are celebrating Christmas again, we search for new traditions that we can share with our daughters that perhaps in the (not as distant as it once seemed) future they can bring to their children..
Winter becomes spring and in our family the spring brings the first birthday of the calendar year. The birthday girl (or I guess person. Honeybear is NOT a girl) gets to set the menu for the day. Choosing favorite meals strikes me as the most common birthday tradition among my friends followed closely by choosing a favorite restaurant for dinner. But what do we really look forward to here? Breakfast. The day after. We eat left over birthday cake for breakfast the day after a birthday. I don’t allow ice cream but I make sure we drink milk.
Spring ushers in Easter as well as birthdays. For years we’ve struggled with what to do. Not anymore! In 2010 we declared a new family tradition for Pascha. (Pascha is Greek transliteration of Passover, but for Orthodox Christians it is the Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord). Paschal Divine Liturgy begins at Midnight and after feasting at 3am with church family we crawled into bed for a few hours of rest. Sometime in the late morning we had “breakfast” or “brunch”. We ate bacon. We ate hard boiled eggs and we treated our taste buds to Pascha Cheese which is really more like a cream cheese frosting. I’m quite certain it is a tiny sliver of heaven here on earth. Although you can eat the cheese with a spoon, it is especially divine with Pascha Bread. We feasted on two different types of Pascha bread (one in the Russian tradition which is sweeter and one in the Greek tradition both are excellent). After this informal snaking style meal, we decreed that it should from that day forward be a family tradition to eat bacon, eggs, bread and cheese.
Like glue, traditions bind family members together. It isn’t the tradition itself or the length of time that makes it so sticky. It’s the heart desiring to make memories and passing from one generation to the next the beautiful idea of family.
What are some of your family traditions? What things do you do make an event a celebration?