Growing up we had a lot of awesome traditions in my Dad's family. Some of them were around food--like the gingersnaps we all gobbled up, or the pecan rolls someone would make every year for Thanksgiving. Other traditions, such as meeting up on Boxing Day instead of Christmas were made up out of convenience so that people weren't rushing and travelling on Christmas Day. I do remember some raucous Christmas parties when I was little at some relatives house that involved my grandmother lighting a rum soaked figgy pudding on fire.
One tradition as a child that I loved and will always remember fondly were the plays that we would make up every year and put on. These weren't exactly elaborate plays, since most of us, at the time, were 10 and under but they were fun! We would generally steal fairy tales and rename the characters with the names of our parents. My Dad has six siblings, so we had ample names to choose from. I think my brother and I actually inadvertently started this tradition when I was about 4 with a stunning rendition of the Frog Prince. Actually I have no recollection of the actual play, but I assume that since someone took a picture, I was stunning. Memories...
We haven't done plays in a awhile as 'the cousins,' as we are referred to, have grown up. We moved away when I was 10, and missed most family gatherings over the next decade since it wasn't quite as easy to keep in touch then as it is now. I've only been able to participate in a handful of family events, mostly since I moved back to the east coast, but one tradition I always loved was the Christmas rotation. Every year the family would sign up, and they would draw names to find out who you had for Christmas. With seven kids and their families, the list is long, and you would get one or two people to buy presents for each year. It worked for many years, with some awesome presents coming my way as a kid, and I happily joined in the rotation a couple of years ago. Every year at Christmas, even when we were hundreds of miles away, I would get so excited to see those packages arrive in the mail, and know that my family had thought of us. To a kid far away from her family...it meant the world to me.
I was really saddened to find out that this year they are stopping the Christmas rotation. I had contacted a family member in England asking if I could help with some of the cooking, since she sent out gingersnaps to everyone every year, only to find out that since the rotation wasn't going to happen...she wasn't going to make them. Like our plays, another family tradition that helped shape my life has ended. It seems like a little thing, but there were years when either I didn't get any presents at all, or very few and those packages from family made my holiday. Ever have a Christmas with no presents? It really sucks. It seems like a little thing...but those little things tell people that you care. So this year...I want to make those gingersnaps that have been lovingly made and sent out, even when they were made in October to get from England to the States by Christmas. I want to send out Holiday cards when I never cared about them before. Maybe I can start a Christmas rotation with my cousins...the sky is the limit. I want to make my own traditions.
What are some family traditions from your childhood? Do they live on, or have they died out as you've gotten older?