Minnesota Mamaleh: Tradition!
Rhyme, I’m not really attached to. But, traditions? Yeah, those, I really do love. Adore. And seek out. They’re the fabric of a family, our family. And provide a semblance of order, routine and predictability to what is often, let’s just face it, the harried world that we live in. They also create that sense of fun, cohesiveness and feeling of I want to be here. Right here. For all of us.
Big traditions are easy to call out and wrap our minds around. They often circle around religion, holidays in particular. Favorite foods, activities, songs, prayers, relatives. Holidays and religious practices do, indeed, bring people together. If nothing else, for some delish food and the requisite family photo (see right).
And everyday, “ordinary” traditions? Those little gems give our family its spark. I love that my children know that they will have a “special day” for their birthday where they’re in charge of the food, the activities and the all-important dessert. I love that at dinnertime Kayli grabs for the silverware and Chloe grabs the napkins. And Brody? Well Brody grabs for sure (Napkins! Spoons! Plates! Oh my!) but “love” isn’t exactly the word that I’d use to describe his er- helping. At least not quite yet.
Hot chocolate and popcorn on the first snowy day of the season. Water fights. Rounds (And rounds. And more rounds) of Would You Rather? Treats hidden in popcorn. Chalk tracings on the driveway. That’s the busy, fun mess that is a family. The kids talk about these activities well in advance, totally off-season. Like when we were running through our sprinkler this afternoon and Chloe said, “I can’t wait to make a snowman!” Just like that.
I want my kids to have memories of some traditions for as far back as they can remember. Just the way it is. What we do. Who we are. Apple picking in the Fall. Picking out new dreidles at Chanukah. Planting flowers in the spring. Making challah on Shabbat. Somewhere along the way some (many?) of these traditions will stick. They’ll draw us together and give us fabulous photos to ooh-and-aww- over, stories to tell, laughs to share.
My parents and I had numerous big traditions to look forward to. The parties and dinners, vacations and trips are all memorable, for sure. But what really stands out in my mind are relaxed, delish weekend breakfasts. At our house that meant eggs, breads, shmears and fruit. Completely unthinkable and totally shocking for Jason whose family also had lovely weekend family breakfasts. But their Minnesotan feasts were filled to the brim with treats like monkey bread, pancakes or fresh waffles. We’re the ying and yang of breakfast foods, friends. Sweet and salty, at its best.
Even though our go-to meals were different, what really warmed both of our hearts, at the core, was actually the same. It was the time set aside to be together. And the fact that it was just a little bit different than the hustle-bustle of the work-week. When I’ll be honest with you, some days it just doesn’t get any better than cereal in a to-go cup because wehavetogettoschoolrightnow!!
A parent educator once shared that planned activities are important and fun, for sure, but what kids really want, need, crave and create memories around is simply the act of being together. And whether that’s at the zoo, at the water park or just in your front yard in the sprinkler, it’s all time together. That really resonated with me. I’ve taken many, many steps to tone down the wowy-pazowy factor of some of our traditions.
So knowing that and totally and completely respecting and being a sucker for the day-to-day traditions (Pie in pajamas! Manis and pedis! Popsicles outside!), why is my home and my family in a seemingly constant flutter of activities?
Well I’ll tell you. Just between you and me, it’s because I know that I’m gifting Jason and I memories with with our young children, as a family. And I’m gifting those young children a lifetime of values, lessons and what’s-importants all wrapped up in neat and tidy (well not really, but that does sound lovely, doesn’t it?) little packages known as traditions. And just like anything else, in parenting, there’s a fine balance of over-the-top and um- just at the top. (You know what I mean.)
Tradition is defined as beliefs or customs taught by one generation to the next. I love that.
Some traditions are not-to-be-messed with. We will always have ice cream for dinner one summer night, try honey sticks while apple picking and bake hamentashen at Purim. And wonderfully inherent within these traditions? Is the familiarity. The anticipation. The “known” quality.
But other times it’s not the same-ness that we’re seeking, striving, aiming for. It might not look identical from week-to-week or year-to-year. Maybe, the only quality that’s the same, that’s traditional is that the kids, and Jason and I for that matter, know that we can count on special days and special moments. Together. And that’s enough. That’s tradition.
Last weekend was the 4th of July. Hooray! Happy barbecue day to you! We talked to the kids about the freedoms fought for and gained. And then, we celebrated.
Like most of our traditions, our fourth of July was a big old mish-mash. Of big and small. Same and new. Calm and absolutely nuts-o. But all traditional. To us. And it was totally and completely worth it. At the end of the day, I think that all family traditions so-very-are.
I love you. Seriously. Let’s marry and live together forever in a big ol’ family compound.
I’m with you. Traditions are great! Even if (maybe especially if) they’re a little goofy like our tradition of breaking the fast after Yom Kuppur by going to a Mexican resaurant because they serve chips as soon as you sit down (so no waiting to eat!)
Your traditions are so full of warmth and love, and that’s such a good thing. Creates great memories.
I love melding traditions — using my family’s and my husband’s family’s and also creating our own…especially at Passover. One day, hopefully, our children will do the same.
Tradition, I love! I very much can relate to the ‘just to the top’ type…those are the every day (even when not each & every) ones we cherish. It’s sort of like those are the ones that set us apart from other families and make ours the unique fam we are.
I love the family pics of you all at the game. You guys are adorable in your matching twinkie clothes, awesome!
Love the pictures.
A while back I wrote a post about family traditions and their importance.
Great thoughts! I love traditions. One of the best parts of Brady-bunching is getting to introduce your traditions to your new family, and adopting theirs.
Traditions are important- they add something special to life.
I am sorry I have been so behind on commenting. You know the deal.
Anyway, I really enjoyed this post.
We too are so bonded by tradition.
Interesting though, I have noticed my parents a little *stuck* in certain traditions.
At times, this has created a challenge with raising miss Victoria.
I try to remember that although the world has changed, certain traditions are meaningful to them, and deserve a certain level of respect.
Even if that means Victoria having chocolate ice cream with sprinkles at 9pm.
I separate Jewish traditioms from our family traditions. I wonder if my kids remember them like that.
So I’m not the only one who thinks dreaming up new traditions is an excellent hobby?! Some of mine stick and some don’t, but whether it’s related to the holidays or the seasons or the rhythms of daily life, I’m a total sucker for traditions too. Oh, and Sunday breakfast? Evenly divided between salty and sweet around here. My husband has even stopped thinking it’s weird that I serve salad for breakfast!
erica, o.m.g. i *literally* spit-out-coffee-laughed reading that! let’s do it!! 🙂
susan, hi lady! *love* your break-the-fast tradition. and, in my opinion, that’s not goofy, it’s pure brilliance! 🙂
pearl, hi there! so wonderful to hear from you! blending, mixing, creating, and all of those other -ings– that’s the good stuff, isn’t it? *sigh*
christine, amen sista! amen. and can i just say, nice usage of “twinkies.” *very* midwest of you! 🙂
hi susie, thanks so much for sharing your link! i’m looking forward to reading it!
mirj, hello! “brady-bunching” is one of the best verbs. EVER. love it!
hi jack, so nice to hear from you and that’s so, so very true!
lol michele, thanks much for the note lady! and seriously, no apologies necessary! i hope this week’s looking up for you!! what you wrote really resonates with me– the balance between respecting traditions that are already in place and creating ones that work for your family can be tricky, for sure. (another post-in-the-making?!)
hi batya, thanks for the note! that would be a fascinating discussion to have with your kids (and *of course,* write about!) 🙂
& bookishima, you-me-mama-soul mates! but (i think) we already knew that!! and btw, serious lol about breakfasts! jason *still* can’t fathom the salad-at-breakfast phenomenon!! excellent to hear from you, lady!
I just love the mish-mash. That’s so much how we work in terms of traditions (let them be changeable, let them work for us as we evolve). 7 PM new year’s (midnight in england). Seder brunch (before naptime) you name it. We are not tethered to one way or even to every year of the same. Or every year for every thing.
How much joy you find, in so many ways, so inspirational!
Beautiful post my friend.
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As Jews were are very lucky to have a very rich tradition.
Last yeat I asked a few people to share their understanding of tradition within the frame of Judaism. You may wish to have a look:
It is also nice to have traditions that are particular to your own family.
Wow, you are awesome, Galit! This was awesome and I loved every word and every picture of it. Your kids are very, very lucky to have you and I mean that in every sense of the word 🙂
sarah, thanks as always, for the support, the validation and the superb word choices. evolve, not tethered, seriously love it all! i think our theme might be staying in tune to what our families need. love that, too.
robin, thanks lady. thanks much. 🙂
ilana-davita, great to hear from you! lucky, indeed, in so many ways. thanks so-very-much for sharing your links!
& lisa, thanks gf! means the world coming from you. and as you well know, i heart-and-soul believe that right back at ya’ is in order! 🙂
Unlike you, I’m not that energetic about inventing new traditions. I guess we have ours, but I don’t go out of my way to create them. That’s why I’m grateful to have the structure of the Jewish holidays and Shabbat. They kind of ‘force’ us to incorporate tradition in our lives, and they lend a rhythmic quality to the weeks and months and years.
On another note, how lovely it must be to have actual seasons, whose coming and passing you can celebrate with ‘traditions’! Here in Israel we pretty much have hot, hotter, and a few months of cool with some rain. No snow, no magificent show of red in the autumn, and just the briefest show of spring. Sometimes I miss the four seasons.
As I was reading it, I was reminded of Ilana-Davita’s wonderful Mesorah Project. I’m glad to see that she posted a link to it above.
Thank you Mrs.S. for thinking of last year’s series on my blog.
shira, hi lady! you have such a beautiful way with words– i love the notion of a “rhythmic quality” and the way you describe the seasons? *that’s* a blog-post or a poem in the making, if i ever heard one!
mirj, thanks for the link-love! i’m honored (truly). and your post? it’s a must-read, as always!!
and mrs. s & ilana-davita, thanks so much for the notes and the links to that series. what an absolutely amazing find! the series *and* this community, that is!! 🙂
great post, brought out many thoughts and feelings for me. i think it’s sophisticated for anyone of any age to say during summer fun that they can’t wait to build a snowman, most of us tend to forget about the reality of one season while immersed in the season at the other end of the spectrum. i totally agree that the key for kids is harmonious, focussed together times; that trumps any glitz or pricetag attached to the event. again, really great,real, true, from the heart writing. thanks for sharing it.
rabbi, hi! so wonderful to hear from you! and your words? they’re kind, poignant and perfect, not that i would have expected anything less from you!
I adore tradition as well. So much so, that I can’t let go of my Maxwell House Haggadot. I know there are more progressive, egalitarian, thought provoking and inspiring Haggadot out there but they just don’t have the personal, familial history connected to them. I particularly love the photocopied versions my Dad made for our then expanding family. I love the wine and charoses stains that evoke loving memories of past gatherings. I’ve tried introducing newer, more modern text but it just doesn’t stir my soul the way the old Maxwell House does. Good to the last drop!
t, hello! lol maxwell commercials totally have the corner on heart-warming moments! 🙂 i so love that you found the perfect-for-your-family hagadah and know to just leave it be. it reminds me of what you wrote about the weed in the garden…food and wine stains make me all sorts of nostalgic, too! on hagadot, for sure, but on recipes/ cookbooks as well! it’s like i’m brought right back to that time and place. *sigh* thank you so much for your ever-thoughtful & much-appreciated note!
What an amazing mother you are, Galit! How lucky your family is to have you creating their traditions and home. And if you every feel like adopting an adult (I don’t eat much) — Let me know!
thanks so so much, jenna! and anytime friend. anytime at all! 🙂
I used our Jewish traditions, like challah, Shabbat, singing zmirot together with our kids–as family traditions.
To this day, they remember the zmirot, and whenver we’re together, we sing!
Beautiful post; saw it on The Kehila Carnival.
Lady Light, hi! Thank you for the note and the glimpse into your traditions! I love that you still carry them forward– that’s always the hope, right? 🙂