May 24, 2011

Remember the Fiddler on the Roof song, “Traditions”?  What family traditions do you follow and are they uniquely yours, long time family, religious or acquired?

Recently I was speaking with a friend who was hoping that she was not going to get together for her birthday with her sister. I was surprised because I know she and her sister are very close. What I did not know is the tradition the sisters have since they were kids to celebrate their birthdays by going out to dinner at the same restaurant and ordering the same food every year. Year after year the restaurant is Denny’s!

Evidently her sister like many people who hold on to traditions fiercely, feel you can not deviate at all from the tradition. When my friend was growing up, Denny’s was close to their home and an acceptable place for kids to go alone. The traditional dinner menu, chicken fried steak! Now there are really good restaurants they can go to since they drive and order many things off a menu besides the fried mystery meat entre, but is that keeping with tradition?

Some people I know earnestly strive to set traditions for their families and their children. Just because you get together with someone for New Years Day does not mean it is a yearly occurrence, or is it? What if they think it is a tradition and you are breaking from it if you decline the invitation?

Some traditions are wonderful and stand the test of time. Many families just starting out yearn to make their own traditions. Over the years many families and individuals start new traditions and drop some of the old ones.  Holidays, vacations, family reunions are all laced with traditions. Are you embraced with traditions or saddled?

Jackie Kennedy Onassis set a tradition for her children to write in their own handwriting a poem and read it to her as a special gift. Caroline Kennedy continued the tradition with her children. A lovely way to get children acquainted with poetry. What a lovely way to keep a tradition going as the children mature. What Caroline doesn’t mention is who prompted the continuation of the tradition. There has to be a person that initiates and enforces a tradition otherwise, we all get a bit lazy. Are you the tradition maker, enforcer or recipient?