Any fans of "Fiddler on the Roof" out there? Remember the song Tevye sings, about "Tradition?" It absolutely amazes me how steeped in tradition the holidays become. As you may or may not know, our lives have changed quite dramatically over the past six years or so. And no, this isn't a "feel sorry for me" post. Just a fact. In September of 2007, we were unsuccessful in fostering to adopt a baby girl. Our dog of 14 years passed about in July of 2008. My mom passed away after a short illness in September of 2008. My sister died in January 2009 after a 14 year battle with breast cancer -- it metastasized to her brain and took her within a matter of months. My mother-in-law passed away in June of 2010 after a 5 year battle with colon cancer. And then, my brother-in-law passed away unexpectedly in May of this year in a motorcycle accident. He had been out of prison only seven months. Each of these illnesses and deaths has taken a little bit of tradition from the holidays -- especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those seem to be the hardest, no matter the loss. Maybe it's just me.
For instance, this year Thanksgiving hit me really hard. It had been "tradition" the past several years before my mom's death for her to come visit us the week of Thanksgiving, and for us to hit the "Black Friday" sales and get her Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop. See, she had come to dread the "traditions" of Christmas, buying and wrapping gifts, decorating, baking, all the things we usually look forward to, as her health began to decline. Her coming at Thanksgiving was twofold -- it was fun to spend the holidays with her, and we took some of the stress out of her life. After she died, my MIL and FIL started coming down and doing the same thing -- boy, could my MIL shop!! (She took after her mom!) So they were here in 2009 and 2010 -- and even though she needed a scooter last year, she still shopped her way through Black Friday! And of course, we always had "traditional" foods at Thanksgiving -- the turkey, of course (and I confess, I have never cooked one by myself. Never. You aren't misreading.) and the "dirty rice," and the lefse, and the green bean casserole, and the glorified rice. Mmmmm . . makes your mouth water just thinking about it! But, I discovered this year that tradition had become my enemy. My FIL came down, and we invited a friend over, and I found I was paralyzed with fear -- fear of cooking the turkey wrong, of not being able to make the gravy, of disappointing my family. So, we began what might become a new tradition -- eating Thanksgiving dinner out. (Well, maybe not. I missed all the homecooked food -- I may get brave and try it next year! But it sure was nice not to have to cook all day, and not to have tons of dishes to wash!)
My point here, is not to whine about our losses, but to point out that "tradition" doesn't have to be set in stone. My husband and I have been married 18 years -- when we got married, we started some of our own traditions. As we don't have children, some of those may be a little different, but they work for us. And with Christmas coming, it will be hard again this year to see the changes in tradition as we try to help our nieces and nephews celebrate their first Christmas without their dad; yet, at the same time, it will be fun to see our niece and nephew start traditions with their sweet little one-year-old. It will be good to be with family for Christmas. It will be good to see my sister's son, whom I haven't seen since last Christmas. I'm excited to make a December Daily, and hope that will become a tradition. And, I think I am more equipped this go 'round, to both begin and enjoy new traditions that I can start with the loved ones around me -- traditions that may fade out after a few years, or traditions that may last (like my sister's biscotti!) until the next generation leaves the nest and begins their own families -- and their own traditions.
Until next time,