Yesterday, Jeff and I met my “cousin,” Richie, for a little shopping and lunch in Philadelphia’s Italian Market. This meeting got me to thinking about family and about traditions. Richie is considerably younger than I am – in fact I remember he was still in a car seat when I was in my freshman year of college – and for some reason it struck me yesterday that his memory of our family’s traditions is very different from my memory of them.
All this ruminating on traditions got Jeff and I talking about them on the way from central PA to Philly in the morning. He shared with me what he remembers about holiday traditions throughout his life (who he spent the holidays with, where they held their holiday meals or celebrations, and what kinds of food they had) and I shared with him what I remember about holiday traditions throughout mine. We talked about how in his family the holiday traditions changed over time (at least during the time he was living with his family, roughly from birth to his early 20s) and how in my family they remained very much the same – at least from my perspective.
Of course, we talked about the subject with Richie over “sangwiches” at Paesano’s in the Italian Market. And he has a completely different perspective on the subject than either Jeff or I. Not only is he from a different generation; but his parents are divorced and so he has two separate celebrations of each holiday and he is also dating a lovely girl whose family lives in a different state than his family, which adds another layer of holiday travel and tradition.
Don’t miss the pics of marketing or “sangwiches” at Paesano’s. Click here to view them!
I wonder, since his generation is much more transient than mine (and mine is much more than my parent’s), if we’ve lost traditions over time or just built a new kind……
In my parent’s “day,” holidays were all about family (and, of course, food) and it was fairly easy (compared to today) to get the family together because for the most part the extended family lived relatively close to one another. I see with people in my age cohort, that holidays are less about family – perhaps due to geographic spread. And I wonder in the generations younger than mine, if the holiday traditions will be even less about family.
OR, do we have to change the way we define family?
When I was thinking about family this evening – what popped in my head is, “family is the people God gave to you and the people God gave you to.” That could encompass biological families; but it can also include the families we choose….spouses, friends, etc.
It makes me sad to think that traditions are lost over time; but perhaps they aren’t lost so much as they evolve. And I wonder, if we could, what we would choose for our traditions….
Strangely enough, I was thumbing through this month’s edition of bon appetit magazine just before I sat down at my computer and began reading an article by Adam Sachs entitled “The Tradition Starts Here.” The end of the article reads, “The main thing I hope he’ll [author referring to his son] remember is to improve them as he goes. Our traditions are only as good as we make them.”
So as much as I want to pass down the traditions of my youth to my nieces; I’ll be sure this year to ask them what they want their traditions to be or how they’d like to change/improve them. AND I am looking forward to starting some new traditions….I’ve written before about how much I enjoyed “visiting” on the holidays as a kid, but that’s gotten more difficult because of geography. Our extended family is much more spread out now than ever before – so (1) we’ll have to start “visiting” on the actual holidays with friends, and (2) we’ll have to be more intentional to set aside time for “visiting” with family. It certainly won’t be as spontaneous as I remember, but the important part is that we’ll be together.