Many of our family traditions are focused on holidays, particularly Christmas, both during my own childhood and as a married adult with children of my own. When my children were younger and all still living at home, it was tradition for us to spend Christmas Eve with my side of the family and Christmas Day with my husband’s side of the family. Both sets of parents lived within the Houston metropolitan area making such an arrangement possible.
From the time our oldest was able to help, our family has decorated the Christmas tree together. Once complete, we would turn off the lights in the room and leave only the lights on the tree burning as we sang “Silent Night.” It was a time of togetherness, full of meaning and reminding us of the reason we celebrated Christmas.
Sometimes traditions are born out of scheduling convenience or out of family preferences. Other times, we have traditions handed down and don’t even know or understand their origins. We merely follow such traditions because it’s the way things have always been done.
My dad once told me a story of such a “tradition.” A girl was watching her mother prepare the roast for a family holiday gathering. She noticed her mom had cut off the end of the roast before placing it in the pan. She asked why the end of the roast needed to be cut off. The mother said she was just doing as she’d seen her mother do. The pair went to the grandmother to ask the purpose of cutting off the end of the roast. What was grandmother’s response? “I cut off the end so the roast would fit into the pan.”
Doing something just because it has always been that way can become routine, habit or even “tradition” – albeit an empty one. Traditions can, however, be a wonderful way to create lasting and meaningful memories, as long as they are in themselves meaningful.