Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What are your family traditions?

We have a tradition surrounding Thanksgiving in my house that involves eating, shopping, and decorating.  After our bellies are full on “Turkey Day” we enjoy each other’s company and the ladies begin planning their annual shopping spree for Black Friday.  The papers are spread across the couch with deals in every store ~ the plan begins to unfold.  What stores do they hit, what time are they meeting, and where.  The guys on the other hand are either smarter than that, or just not cool enough to be invited along (I'll let you decide.)  Actually, I have other plans for Black Friday.  With the girls exhausted from Midnight shopping, I am left to decorate the exterior of the house, get the Christmas tree’s (in-laws and ours) and prep them for evening decorating.   This year was no exception.  As evening approached, we got as far as putting the Christmas lights on the tree, but the girls couldn’t last any longer and off to bed they went.

We have a typical hierarchy of tree decorating – I get the top (tallest of the bunch), Ciara gets the middle, and Samantha has the bottom.  Samantha isn’t always excited about her relegation to the bottom of the tree ~ but it works.  Not sure how this works out, but Lisa supervises (again, she is smarter than I). So, in an effort to expedite the process, I started in their absence.  I began to decorate the top of the tree, pulling the “breakable” ornaments and using them first ~ so as to leave the others for the girls.

And as I placed this ornament on our tree, I couldn’t escape the “tradition” that I held in my hand.  I am the product of a Disney loving Grandmother – “Rebe” is her name.  My childhood is filled with memories of Mickey Mouse “everything” in her house:  watches, ornaments, golf balls ~ you name it, she had it.  Which made it easy at Christmas – if it had Mickey on it, it was a perfect gift for Rebe.  A few years ago, she decided to split her ornament collection amongst her eldest grandsons – primarily because we probably gave the majority to her.  I have close to a dozen ornaments from her collection, and I’m not sure, but this may be the oldest I have. 

For a moment I was overwhelmed.  To be honest, even as I write this I am fighting back tears of admiration for my grandmother.  GG Rebe (great grandma now) has had in incredible influence in my life.  My cousin Scott (oldest grandchild) and I (favorite grandchild) have talked several times of how fortunate we are to be in a family such as ours.  And how special we are to have a “Rebe” in our lives ~ not everyone has that luxury.  If I had to assign a “life-verse” for my Grandmother Rebe, several come to mind, but not sure any one characterizes her better even now, than this:

1Cor 13:3 “And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”

Love - thank you GG Rebe, for passing down the best “family tradition” one could hope for ~


  1. It is not fair to make another guy all misty, mister. I do, however, agree with your writing. Watching the children jump all around and generally being crazy as they cannot hold back their enthusiasm while the tree is being put together last night is a memory which I hope that they will recall in later years. Even as I am responding here, they are laying underneath the tree, which currently only has lights on it, with their two dogs just having fun. We generally put the tree up sometime around now. We are not a family of a large number of traditions, but one tradition we have is having my wife tell the children when and where we acquired each ornament that is placed on the tree. How she remembers this is beyond me. We are hit with the same questions every year, such as "How old were we when you got this one?", or "When did grandma make this one?" Reflection and understanding our past, I believe, is a great tool for connecting with our future.

  2. I did fail to mention my own personal tradition. I enjoy the 24 hours of "A Christmas Story." Ralphie and his Red Rider BB gun for a solid day until the family begs me to turn it off is something I love. Beside the obvious joy of torturing my wife, I can still feel the cold temperature and see the railroad tracks in South Tampa that my friend and I walked to get to the movie theater to see this movie as children when it first came out. (Yes, there was a time when children could actually just go and return home safely). My buddy's grandfather used to give us "A dollar for a hot dog and a dollar for the picture show." Good times.