Thursday, November 22, 2012


When Tevye belts out the following lyrics in Fiddler on the Roof it always seems like an admonishment.

“Tradition, tradition! Tradition!
Tradition, tradition! Tradition!”

Nothing is more important than keeping traditions, he seems to chide. On this most un-traditional of Thanksgivings the concept of ‘traditions’ resonates with me.

Older son is in Chicago visiting a childhood friend who attends a big university there and whose parents now reside on the East Coast.

Earlier today younger son and dad were on the road to Iowa, listening on Sirius Radio to play-by-play announcer Tony Caridi call the West Virginia University basketball game. They had Thanksgiving dinner with one of my brother’s and his family (the other, a cop, has to work). Tomorrow they’ll head to the family alma mater for the WVU vs. Iowa State football game…and root against the alma mater.

Our Iowa State academic roots go deep, but our athletic hearts belong to WVU… where we spent 15 years.

My mom and I were invited next door (tho stayed home) and another neighbor brought us over the most magnificent cake to thank us “for being such good neighbors.”  Both here on the prairie and in Morgantown, WV we have been blessed with wonderful neighbors.

A lifetime ago my husband and I made a decision not to travel on the holidays. Incidents like  backing down an interstate on-ramp in a blinding snowstorm and spending the night in a Red Cross shelter contributed to this decision.

Last year we finally broke our vow and spent Thanksgiving with all my in-laws so we could celebrate a beloved aunt’s 95th birthday the day after.

We also like to be home - our home - for the holidays.

I know each family out there has its own traditions: some spend the holidays the same place their entire childhood and adult life. To each their own. That’s the real beauty of traditions.

When my three siblings and I were growing up we adhered to a strict Christmas ‘schedule.’ Church on Christmas Eve (except the year we ALL had stomach flu; God Bless my mother!), open one present on Christmas Eve, and stockings and the rest of the presents on Christmas morning. If we were at Grandma and Grandpa Rock’s shrimp cocktail was de rigeur.

Then I married a man with pure Danish roots. This Scandinavian family opened all their presents on Christmas Eve.


Needless to say, our son or sons (depending on if the older one is in the country…but that’s another story) adhere to ‘my’ family’s traditions.

Another tradition that’s biting the dust this year is putting up the tree the night of Thanksgiving or the day after. For years a dear friend in M’town would join us for dinner and good naturedly help with the decorating…which commenced the minute the last bite of pumpkin pie was eaten.

Today I’m in a boot, having had ankle surgery a couple weeks ago. My mom (who has lived with us for nearly a decade-and-a-half) stayed home to keep me company instead of going off to my brother’s. Decorating for Christmas will have to wait till the men are home and can haul things up from the storage room.

Recently I just finished reading Anna Quindlen’s eloquent memoir “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.” She writes beautifully in her chapter on faith about her family tradition of reading aloud Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with her three children and husband every Christmas Eve.

No doubt when/if my children have children of their own way down the road - and those children of my sons come to visit - one present will be opened on Christmas Eve and the rest saved for after-stockings on Christmas morning.

The rest is fluid. And embracing the fluidity of life is the best tradition of all.

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