Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Every time I see or hear the word "tradition", I start singing the song from Fiddler on the Roof. Usually I'm just singing it in my head, but there are times when I just can't stop myself from belting it out. I can't help it. It's a conditioned response.

As far as family traditions from childhood go, I don't remember having very many. Sunday dinner was generally fried chicken at Gramma's house, but that was because that's what there was to eat and our house was practically in Gramma's backyard. It wasn't necessarily a "tradition." We didn't travel on holidays, but that was because all the family came down to us to visit Gramma. By default I suppose staying at home on holidays was a "tradition." Gramma's homemade bread was a "tradition" - the only Saturdays she didn't make it were Saturdays that she was sick. It was a "tradition" at Christmas for me to get to open one present from under the tree on Christmas Eve night, but that was more because I was spoiled rotten than anything else.

After I graduated from high school, my family started our big tradition - Thanxmas. It just seemed like a logical and proper thing to do. Because my siblings both had other family commitments during the holidays, and since we had never really worried about getting together on a specific date, we didn't exchange Christmas gifts that year until the day I graduated. That would be in the month of May. It was the first time since the holiday season we had all been together. And that was ridiculous. So my sister decided that, with Christmas already completely taken up with her in-laws' traditions, we had to pick another holiday to call our own. Thanksgiving. So every year, Mom and her kids all head over to my sister's house for the Thanksgiving weekend. We call the day after Thanksgiving "Thanxmas" (a blending of Thanksgiving and Christmas), and that's when we exchange gifts - by way of a Dirty Santa gift exchange.

What's a Dirty Santa gift exchange, you ask? I'd be happy to explain our version for you. Everybody buys something ($10 limit) that they wouldn't mind having for themselves. Wrap it up and put the presents in a pile. We draw numbers and whoever gets #1 picks a present out of the pile. #2 can either "steal" what #1 has already unwrapped, or open another present from the pile. An item can only be stolen 3 times. After the last present has been opened, #1 gets to make the final decision - do I want what I have or what someone else has? The stealing can turn a simple 10 minute gift exchange into a 2 hour war. It's so much fun!

Thanxmas has made my married life so much easier than it could have been. Christmas is a huge deal with my husband's family. With my family's traditions being centered around Thanksgiving, we've never had to choose which family to be with during the holidays. No "But we were with your family last Christmas!" in this house. We reserve the fights for much more important matters, like who ate the last of the ice cream (usually me).

We've talked about what kinds of traditions we will have when we have children of our own. I'm thinking that since we'll always be at his parents' house on Christmas Eve, we should have Santa come to our house on my birthday (Dec 22). Explain it with "Santa knows we'll be at Nana and Grampa's house at Christmas, and he knows Mommy's birthday is a special day for us" or something like that. I'd like to give my children an ornament each Christmas, so when they have a tree of their own they'll have something to put on it. I'd like for it to be tradition for our daughters to have a date with Daddy on their birthday. So they will know how they should be treated on dates when they are finally allowed to have that experience (when they are 30). And our sons can take Mom on a date on their birthdays. So they get some practice in that area, too. I'm sure there will come a time when that tradition will have to be retired (kids get weird about being in public with their parents as they get older, so I'm told), but it will be nice while it lasts. And it would be awesome for that to be a tradition my kids pass on to their kids.

Ok. I'm not just talking about fictional children anymore, I've brought imaginary grandchildren into the picture. Time to wrap this up.

Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can't even describe, aren't even aware of.
~Ellen Goodman

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This post is an entry in Scribbit's June Write-Away Contest. The theme this month is "tradition." Enter your submission by midnight Saturday, June 16th. This month's prize is a Moose Pooper Candy Dispenser - you know you want it!

1 comment:

Scribbit said...

Thanks for entering, you know I really need to see that movie. It gets quoted enough and I haven't a clue about what the quotes mean. :)