I have decided that one of the best things about being a parent is sharing family traditions and creating new ones. The very night that I met my husband, not knowing that he would father my children, we found ourselves conversing on parenting and procreation. I was finishing what would be my "career" as an on again, off again preschool caregiver, a job I'd held through middle school and into my adult life, and had a six year old little brother at home at that time. I loved those kids, every one of them, but at age nineteen I was burned out. I had done my time and planned never to have children of my own.
The man that I was to marry looked shocked when I made this announcement and said, "Really? That's the whole reason for living. To have someone carry on your name." This had never occurred to me since I still had the mentality of a kid, myself, but I thought about what he said for a second and decided that he was right. I changed my mind right then and there. I would have children one day, passing on my genes and unique character traits, if for no other reason than to live forever through them. Pretty self-centered viewpoint, but my decision turned into a passion and I soon found myself daydreaming of what these little critters would be like. Three months later I married that man, and we started planning for a day when we would be ready to have the children that would carry his name and inherit qualities from us both.
Well, those kiddos have been here for a while now and I have loved every second of it. They are amazing! I never imagined that they would be this fabulous. The sleepless nights of newborn motherhood were surprisingly difficult. The worry that accompanies one of them experiencing an illness or the fear that they could be harmed in some way is worse than I could have dreamed, but the laughter and sheer joy that I experience on a daily basis as a direct result from interacting with them is also much greater than I could have hoped for. I really had no idea that it would be this wonderful. I think of having more children, but what I really wish is that I could go back and relive every minute with these boys through all of the stages. I hang on to them and each phase knowing that they will someday slip through my fingers and be grown men, moving on through life.
Part of the fun has been passing down traditions that I shared with my immediate family members growing up. Spontaneous road trips with no destination in mind, holiday menus, party food dinners for no reason in particular, Sunday brunches, leaving for vacation after the sun sets, Florida spring hopping, putting our shoes out on St. Nicholaus Day so they can be filled with treats, hiking sticks for even short jaunts, bonfires, camping-- all things I have passed down to my kids.
From my husband's side, the boys have gained the traditions of deciding on a "secret weapon" fishing lure before family fishing trips and the big fish stories that go along with this form of adventure, hiking mountain trails while discussing the best way in which to handle a confrontation with a wild bear (important, but we have yet to decide on an appropriate course of action if we should ever be unfortunate enough to find ourselves face to face with one), roasting marshmallows over the electric stove burner, making popcorn in the same manner and skipping the air popper method, movies at the theater rather than waiting for them to be released on DVD. The last is a biggy with Hubby. He loves the movie theater while I can't help but focus on sticky floors and the hygienic habits of the person who last occupied the seat I must sit in for two hours.
Our own family's traditions have also been created over the years. Eating out together for lunch on the first day of school while all the other kids are sitting in a lunch room somewhere, just because we can, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade followed by the annual national dog show and Miracle on 34th Street while I finish the food preparation on Thanksgiving Day, annual trips to some of our favorite local mountain towns, backyard camping on Labor Day weekend, spring wildflower hunts, egg decorating, apple, raspberry, and now strawberry and pumpkin farm visits for U-pick fun. We love them all and continue adding to our list of traditions.
Today is chocolate truffle making day for the boys and myself. This one started when they were about four and two years old. We share the finished morsels, but some are added to our German lebkuchen and confection tray that my mother passed down to me that she would use on Christmas Eve in the same manner, when our entire family would gather at our home for holiday parties when I was growing up. The lebkuchen and German chocolates I buy with my husband and children in a little German town in the mountains of Georgia we traditionally travel to each December for this purpose.
I love traditions, especially around the holidays. I think my favorite growing up was each Saturday before Christmas. My dad started this one. We would drive into downtown Orlando to Orange Avenue, the main street to our old downtown. On this day, we would shop for gifts for each other in the old Woolworth and the McCrory store that still maintained its mid-century lunch counter. One year, when I was about fifteen, it was rumored that snow was in our forecast, a rare occurrence for Central Florida. We had finished our shopping and my dad and I were standing by the city Christmas tree. Sure enough...snow. He pointed out that you could just see the tiny flakes in front of the backdrop of the enormous, dark green tree. More like specks of dust, there they were, twirling around in the gentle breeze. The best part of family traditions is the memories they instill.