Reminded of the erstwhile George Bailey crying out that he’d lost Zuzu’s petals, I wonder if the traditions carefully crafted in our own family will endure or quietly disappear.Would, if asked, our progeny identify seasonal traditions that have come to have meaning to them? And if so, would those named correspond with those intended by we parents at inception? Would the long valued and treasured patterns from my own childhood be lost as merged with those of my spouse and still again those derived from our own marriage?
Remembering the most direct path to a direct answer is a direct question, “So children,” I queried, “What if any do you believe to be our family holiday traditions?” Without hesitation and in near unity, they responded that they took great value in the routine, designed to keep them away from the tree on Christmas morning, of sleeping on the floor of my wife and my bedroom. They didn’t speak to Midnight services, copious decorations or receiving gifts. The tradition they’d found most meaningful was one that we didn’t even consider a tradition! Surprised by the response – especially in the consistency and conviction of answer – I listened as the boys recalled memories from one holiday to the next, of nights in sleeping bags, surrounded by dogs and Cheetos. They were right, this silly little pattern had become a tradition. And, it had become one that mattered – not just to them, but to me too.
So this year, when we put away the last of our midnight snacks and extinguished all the lights, our bedroom found a 16-year-old just now taller than me, his 12-year-old brother not far behind, a happy dog, and a very content Mom and Dad. It’s not a grand tradition, but it’s ours and we love it.