Last week when I wrote about the importance of teaching our children about traditions and family, I failed to also touch upon something that I didn’t even realize was about to effect my own life and so soon.
The most wonderful and nostalgic memory I have as a kid was Christmas Eve at my aunt Peggy’s house and then Christmas dinner at my aunt Pam’s. The aromas of the food, the loud hum of conversation marked by intervals of belly laughter echoed throughout the house (mostly in the kitchen of course) and was music to my ears. The adults spent endless days and hours preparing the house, the food, the activities, and the decorations for our family’s special night together. And everyone showed up.
Some of the best times were those I shared with my young cousins exploring the nooks and crannies of those houses. In particular, the basement at my aunt Pam’s was a little kid’s dream. It had several dimly lit rooms, old dusty treasures, one of those older big screen projection TVs, a tattered pool table, and this one subtle ramp that connected two of the rooms that was a mecca of indoor skateboard antics. There were no adults down there. It was like our own party and we were free to do what we pleased. It was heaven. And for those few short hours, we played and explored together as if we were always together when in fact, we typically only saw one another a few times a year. Cousins are special and I certainly miss those days.
Today those houses are gone and some of the people have left us. But it’s those memories that are forever ingrained in my mind and heart. It is the tradition of Christmas Eve that has meant so much to our family. But because life is unpredictable and dynamics change, everything seems more complicated today. Sometimes traditions are challenged and we need to adapt.
These last few years have been a challenge for my family so this year, it was time for the baton to be passed; it was a time for the aunts and uncles to take a step back and let the cousins to be responsible for the family tradition. It’s now our turn and I suspect, someday not too long from now, it will then be my childrens’ tradition. The important thing is that we keep it alive and we continue to bring our wonderful family together so that while the basements may be different, the cousins will always have the opportunity to build and share that special bond.
The holidays are a special time. We happen to celebrate Christmas but whether you share our holiday or celebrate Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or otherwise, the goal is the same: create your own memories with the people you love. And one way to ensure that you do so is to develop your own traditions and pass them down from generation to generation.
I suspect that my children will also one day look back and cherish the time they spent on Christmas Eve with their cousins. So the tradition lives on.