I grew up with very few traditions. Though my parents were born and raised in China, we didn’t celebrate the Chinese New Year with lanterns, moon cakes, feasting or the fastidious cleaning of the house to sweep away the evil spirits (you could eat off my mom’s floors every day of the year!). They decided they’d raise their children as “American” as they could and in the process, didn’t pass much Chinese culture along to their three children – all of us are sadly unilingual and didn’t pass along much “Chinese-ness” to our children beyond physical characteristics. Consequently, we ended up growing up with no Chinese traditions and only some basic American ones: turkey on Thanksgiving, a tree and gifts on Christmas Day. I cannot imagine how hard it was to raise three children in a second language while trying to figure out the strange and foreign world of flying reindeer, Santa and the benefits of fruit cake… so by no means is this a complaint.
All parents have to figure out what traditions they impart upon their children – what they pass down from their own families and what they uniquely create along the way. I’m just now realizing how important and wonderful traditions have become for our family. Our four kids count on our traditions and look forward to them. They’ve become a stabilizing force through the ups and downs of every year.
Ever since our kids were young we’ve considered New Year’s Eve a time for family to be together. This has transitioned from a home party with little kids to a grand family dinner at a restaurant in Woodstock, Vermont where we state our highs and lows of the year, play Would You Rather? and enjoy fun conversation over wonderful food and drink (as many Shirley Temples as the kids can put down) and the best toffee pudding with caramel dessert known to mankind. And when we get home we continue our Lord of the Rings marathon where John and I tear up multiple times and the children laugh at us. We cheer for Aragorn, Legolas, Frodo and the rest of the Fellowship and against the Orcs and all evil as we say goodbye to the old and ring in the new.
Each holiday and birthday brings with it our own traditions, most of which we’ve created since our first child was born. These rituals (which I just realized often center around fattening foods – how very “American” of us…) keep family life moving forward while bringing us together. They’ve been so good for the cohesion and stability of our family. And therefore, I really hope they get passed along… Orcs and all.
How about you? Do you have traditions you hope will continue when your kids have kids?