My family has many traditions throughout the year; however, they seem to stand out more during the holiday season. Our traditions run the gamut. Some are old, having been passed down through generations, and some are new. In either case, they are special and help solidify our identity as a family. Many of our traditions are centered on the holidays. For me, this is part of what makes the holidays so much fun. Everything from the meals, seating arrangements, tree trimming, when we open gifts, to the music, gag gifts, and the Thanksgiving Day Stuffing. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention my oldest sister’s annual making-fun-of-my-adorable-Santa Claus I made when I was in the first grade—she always made me put it on the back of the tree!
Traditions help us relate on a deeper level and connect to our past. They help us remember those who came before us that first shared the tradition with us. For example, my grandma always made two of my favorite desserts at Christmas: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies & White Pie. She made these every year that I can remember. I have made the white pie a few times, but every year either my sister or I make the crinkles. As a matter of fact, that is one of our biggest traditions; we bake & create enough sugary treats to clear an entire sugar cane field. Of course, this is one of the greatest traditions to pass down to my own children – except for the mess! Every year Nolan & Davan help us make goodies for Christmas and every year I tell them that my favorites were always the crinkles that my grandma made. They already have their favorites too. And yes, they are already asking “when are going to start making cookies?”
Marriage can present some difficulty because sometimes the traditions clash or seem strange to our spouse. Fortunately for Kerry & I, most of our traditions fit well together. However, as I mentioned, some do seem strange. I have to remember that they aren’t strange; they are just different and I need to get used to them. One of Kerry’s holiday traditions was that her mom would get her and her sister pajamas, and they would get to open them on Christmas Eve. I thought it seemed a little silly, but now Kerry has brought the Christmas Eve Pajama tradition to our family, and Nolan & Davan get their Christmas PJs every year, and they love it. By the way, Kerry still gets her annual PJs too.
I did mention Thanksgiving stuffing right? That is a huge tradition in our family. To me, it is the highlight of Thanksgiving dinner—closely followed by my mom’s pumpkin pie. Our traditional stuffing is a recipe from my Dad’s family that goes back to County Sligo Ireland. My dad makes it every year from memory—all his recipes are from memory. I am just too scattered to do that. My oldest sister, yes the one who makes fun of my arts and crafts, and I went over to my mom & dad’s the day before Thanksgiving last year to watch and learn. We did this to secure the future of our family recipe. My dad instructed me on what to do and my sister wrote it down while my Uncle Kevin paced nervously in the family room hoping that we wouldn’t ruin his mother’s dressing.
Fast forward to this year; my sister and I prepared the stuffing the night before at Pajaro Dunes all on our own. We did get Kerry, Stacey, Nolan, and Davan to help with the mixing, though. During the process I spoke to my dad on the phone to make sure we were doing it correctly. My Uncle Kevin took the phone from my dad and told me he was a little nervous when he heard my dad would have no part in the process. He said, “I must admit that I was a nervous when I heard your sister was making the stuffing, but felt better when I heard you were leading the project. I was very impressed with your workmanship in the kitchen last year.” He was also very impressed when he tasted the delicious stuffing my sister and I made!
All kidding aside, the baton has been passed. My dad does not need to make the stuffing anymore if he doesn’t want to. He has capable children to do so who now have the recipe written down to ensure that it is passed to my children and beyond.
I received the “stuffing baton” from my father, and I passed along a baton of my own to my son Nolan. In my house, we all help with the tree decorating, but Kerry and I each have our special job: Kerry puts on the lights and I put on the tree-topper. Well, this year the tree-topping job went to Nolan.
So far this holiday season has been a great one, and it’s barely December! Traditions are special and what help make the holiday season great. They bring us together and keep our heritage alive. Most importantly, they are to be shared and passed on.
What family traditions do you have? What are your favorites? Do you remember any from your childhood that reminds you of those that came before you?
– Kevin Williams
VP & Dad