Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Growing up, my life was all about traditions.

There were Sunday dinners at Grandma Jean's house (usually after we had all gone to church). She would make a big dinner with meat, mashed potatoes, gravy, cole slaw, jello salad, a vegetable, biscuits or bread and a dessert of some kind. We always ate at the dining room table with Grandma at the head and Grandpa at the end and all the rest of us seated all around them. Afterward, we would help Grandma do the dishes and then after some play time down in their huge basement, we headed down to the other end of town to see Grandma P. We could usually talk her into making us malts (chocolate or strawberry were the favorite flavors). Then it was home to finish up any homework, take baths and hit the beds.

There was church and Sunday School every Sunday as a family whether my dad was home or on the road. My mom would get or sorry butts out of bed and make us get dressed in or best clothes and out the door we'd go. We would sit in the pew at church with my mom at the aisle and then us kids . Her arm usually rested along the back of the pew so that if anyone of us did something we weren't supposed to (imagine that?) she was quick to smack the back of our head. There was always a lot of very quiet whispering into our ears during church (threats of dire punishment to come once we got home) that no one but us kids ever heard.

We celebrated each holiday in special ways:
Easter: Mom always made us girls matching Easter dresses (which were very pretty) and then we had the hats, gloves and patent leather shoes, My brother had the slicked back hair, dress pants and tie thing going on. We went to sunrise service at church then came home so we could hunt for our Easter baskets. Some years that Easter Bunny find them so well we had trouble finding them. Then we would go into Grandma's for and Easter Egg hunt in her back yard and dinner.

Thanksgiving: Was always the big family dinner where everyone got together to celebrate. I can remember so years eating 2-3 dinners because we had to go to both Grandma's houses and then mom had dinner too but it didn't matter because the food was sooooo good! All our aunt, uncles and cousins would be there ( and sometimes we hadn't seen them for a long time so this was great) and we would run around and play for hours.

Christmas: Was always celebrated at Grandma P's on Christmas Eve with chicken dumpling soup (don't know why or where this started from). Mom always made us girls matching dresses for Christmas too until we got old enough to protest and then they were similar but not matching. The entire family would get together, Grandma P, Grandad, Mom, Dad, us kids, My Uncle Glenn, Aunt Cherie and all their children. We always ate first, the adults around the dining room table and the kids usually in the enclosed back porch room. It was a real thrill when you reached the age to move to the adult table. We could not open any presents until everyone was done eating and all the dishes were done. This was a fast and strict rule of Grandma P and nobody messed with this woman and her rules! So of course my Uncle Glenn, knowing how anxious all the kids would be to open presents would ask for thirds on soup and then take his time eating. After that he would want dessert right away instead of waiting until after presents were open. There were several Christmases when children were in tears because of this begging Uncle Glenn to please hurry up and eat so we could open presents. Dishes are finally done and presents are being opened when all of a sudden, there is a knock o Grandma's front door. When we ope it, no one is there but a huge box has been left and when we bring it inside and look at what's in it, we find it has been left by Santa and is full of gifts for everyone. This was the tradition of the Santa Claus Box that went on for many generations.

I loved all these traditions growing up and tried to keep them going with my children. It was difficult sometimes due to family dynamics, a divorce and location of relatives but I did the best I could.
To this day I still do the Sunday dinners even if it's just for my husband and I ( and sometimes it doesn't even have to be a Sunday to have this family dinner).

I don't do Easter like I used to anymore.

I still do Christmas but because part of my family lives so far away we do 2 Christmases. We do Christmas Morning brunch with our 2 daughters and grand children who live here by us. Then in January, my parents, my sisters and I and all our children still get together to celebrate the Grandma P traditional chicken dumpling Christmas. We rotate where it is ever year and we only do presents for kids under a certain age but it gets the whole family together and carries on the tradition.

And I still do Thanksgiving. This is my favorite holiday of all because I get to cook which I love. Every year I get up at the butt crack of dawn and stuff the bird, bake the pies, make the rolls, peel the potatoes, make the salads and everything else that goes into making that picture perfect Thanksgiving dinner. And yes it must be perfect! I am a fanatic about it. This year the tradition is moving and I must give up control. Can I do that? I honestly don't know but we'll find out won't we. I have not had Thanksgiving with all 3 of my children together since they have moved away. They live in Iowa and Nebraska so my daughter who lives in Nebraska has asked me and George to travel there for Thanksgiving this year and spend it with them. It means giving up Thanksgiving with George's daughters but they understand and have other family to spend the holiday with. I am so excited about this because tradtion means so much to me and everytime I spend a holiday with out my children, I am so sad. This year , I don't have to be sad.

Tradition is wonderful- changing traditon even better


jori-o said...

What fantastic traditions and memories! I'm so glad you won't be sad this year ;)

Debbie said...

I'm glad you'll have the kids this year too. Since mine are just entering the flee the nest stage, I am so fearful of the changes. Just yesterday I realized that next year we'll probably have to go cut a tree without two of them. I almost cried.