Traditions mean many different things to many different families. They can be important to some members of the family and mean about nothing to other members of the same family. Sometimes they can even be unimportant until they are gone and in those instances are sorely missed.
See, I grew up in a family that was insistent on having a lot of family traditions. Some seemed big and important to me as a child and some have not taken on greater meaning until I became an adult and a parent myself.
A few of those minor traditions that I didn’t think were important at the time, now harbor a place of the most precious of memories in my often chaotic life. It was the simple things. The things that were the barest of human experiences that I now realize shape us in perhaps the most impactful way. This realization came a few nights ago.
See, my children and I do not often see eye-to-eye on what to watch on television together. Colin, my 5-year old always votes for some action packed cartoon or something along the lines of 'The Power Rangers'. My daughter, Sawyer, sophisticated 10-year old that she is, has a developed a love for K-dramas (the ‘K’ stands for Korean for those of you who are lucky enough to have escaped this particular education up until this point in life).
And me? Well, I like football on Saturdays and a few epic fantasy movies or, of course, Grey’s Anatomy.
You see where this is going, right? We never agree; however, there is one genre that we will never turn away from...documentaries.
My children and I have enjoyed documentaries about space, the food industry, natural disasters, true crimes, strange occurrences, animals, rocks, viruses, dinosaurs, religion, famous musicians, scientists and one time, a very sketchy documentary about plants. The point is, we love them. We learn from them. We can agree on them, but most importantly, ‘documentary night’ is our little tradition.
And it came from my family. See, I can’t tell you how many times over the years growing up that I would find myself sitting on the floor in front of my grandpa’s recliner because all the rest of the family had piled onto every surface inch of the remaining furniture to settle in for the Sunday night documentary that had been advertised on CBS for the 3 months prior.
It never mattered what the subject matter of the feature film was about. I remember things like dinosaurs and every year around Easter they would show a documentary about the Holy Lands or ‘The Life and Times of Jesus.’ We never cared. We just showed up to watch, to laugh, to smile, to spend time together and to share in the experience of the tradition.
Slowly over the years, we grew, got busy and that small tradition slipped away to only exist in our memories. Until, of course, we could renew it with children of our own.
So as the holiday season draws near, think of your holiday traditions and keep them alive for a little while longer. Because trust me, you’ll miss them when they are gone.