The holiday season is here. Thanksgiving leftovers have barely been packed away and now the sprint to 2015 is upon us!
There is so much that we all want and need to do to make the holidays fun and festive -- preparing meals for celebrations, decorating our homes, buying gifts, and finding the right outfits. At this time of year especially we look to tradition to guide us in what to do.
The definition of tradition is a belief or a behavior passed down within a group, a family or a society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past. Examples include holidays or clothes with special significance, but the idea also applies to social norms and greetings. Traditions can persist and evolve for thousands of years. The word tradition literally means to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping.
Almost everyone wants to carve their own way and make their own path, be different from their parents – it’s natural to do so. But what is interesting to note is that almost everyone loves their grandparents! And of course it is our grandparents who are passing on family and cultural traditions that we come to value and cherish most.
My own grandparents had the Thanksgiving and Christmas Day tradition of preparing and serving a large meal with giant turkey and numerous side dishes, as a child I hated dressing up for these dinners – I wanted to be outside playing with my cousins and siblings! But today I look back fondly with the memories of time spent with aunts, uncles, great aunts and grandparents no longer here and the care they took to prepare such elaborate meals and serve it in such a beautiful and sophisticated way. It is the memories and traditions celebrated with friends and family that stay with us.
Americans love to create their own new traditions too. My parents loved the big holidays dinners at relatives, they had a more casual approach to large meals but loved entertaining friends and family in their own way. They created their own tradition by hosting and serving a Mexican-themed Christmas Eve buffet that no one ever seems to miss. Sombreros not required… In fact, the children were expected to dress up to celebrate the season – while not as formal as my grandparents house, children were required to look appropriate and festive – as there were going to be numerous photo ops. My mother spent a lot of time making sure our outfits always looked great, she understood what the occasion and my grandparents required. I recall one festive outfit that matched my grandfathers – right down to the plaid pants, festive bowtie and red cashmere vest. At the time, I didn’t love the idea of the look and I didn’t enjoy staying indoors when I wanted to be outside, not to mention the constant “oohhs” and “ahhhs” from relatives. My mom had succeeded! I realize now – so many years later-- that I had succeeded too! What I wouldn’t do for one more “ohhh” and “ahhh”, or another photo taken with my grandparents and a few more kisses on the cheek from my aunt! Many of them are gone now, but I am the one able to pass the old and new traditions on to the next generation! Break out the bowties class of 2020!
As the Holiday Season for 2014 unfolds, we hope you will celebrate with family and friends enjoying the warm traditions that have brought you joy and comfort in the past and create your own new traditions to pass on as well.