Family Traditions of Past and Present from the Lakeside Church of Folsom
Christmas in my house always began with waiting. Our grandparents lived in the same town as we did and every Christmas they joined us for the morning celebration. Tradition in our family dictated that no matter how early we kids got out of bed, no matter how desperately we wanted to get started with presents, we couldn’t call Grandma and Grandpa until 7 a.m. Do you know how late 7 a.m. is?
As a potential grandparent, I imagine how this tradition developed: Grandma and Grandpa wanted to sleep in, but as a child, I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t just get up early and come over. Did they really have to wait for our call? Couldn’t they have laid their clothes out the night before? Couldn’t they have been ready when the phone rang? They knew the call was coming; it was tradition.
Merriam-Webster defines tradition as “the handing down of information, beliefs and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction.” I don’t know when calling grandparents on Christmas morning became a tradition for our family. Sometime after Alexander Graham Bell, I guess. It definitely included three generations of handing down, and there were no written instructions. The “Littles” learned it from the “Bigs.” The “Bigs” learned it from the “Parents.” I’m sure the “Parents” learned it from the “Grandparents” in no uncertain terms: “Not before 7 a.m.!”
The fun secret about traditions is they all begin somewhere, and the holiday season is a great starting point. Whatever stage of life you currently traverse, how about launching a new tradition? If you’re a grandparent living far from the grandkids, why not create a tradition of FaceTime before breakfast? Or if you’re a parent, how about doing a holiday shopping spree with the kids—then dropping off the loot at a local charity or food bank? If you’re a young adult (married or not), look around the office for someone who has no family in the area for the holidays. You could invite them over for a meal at which you all unwrap your favorite family traditions.
My siblings and I began a new “tradition” this year—although it doesn’t technically count as tradition yet, since it has to be handed down to become one, and we only had one generation present. It’s been a couple of years since Mom passed, and one day we realized we’d never had a moment where all four of us and our spouses were together alone, so we rented a house on the coast and spent a weekend together in San Francisco. Among the highlights was a Segway tour of the city. I think my sister-in-law might have the distinction of being the only human who has ever been chased down Lombard Street by a runaway Segway—not a glorious moment for her, but a memorable one for our sibling getaway.
Perhaps our kids will carry on this tradition someday with their own siblings; otherwise, I hope they wait until after 7 a.m. to call us.