Sunday, November 24th, 2013
THE POWER AND PAIN OF TRADITION
Tradition is “the passing of customs from generation to generation.”
It’s more than just quirks or personal tastes of holiday celebrations.
Tradition has to bridge generations. It has to connect loved ones beyond time and geography.
I used to stand on the receiving end of holiday traditions.
I learned my mom’s way of hanging tinsel on a Christmas tree–strand by strand. Meticulous. I learned our family tradition was to have multi-colored lights for the tree even when white lights became the trend. I knew which Thanksgiving recipes that came from my Grandmother. The very sound of the Macy parade reminds me of the luxury of only waiting for dinner to be served while I reveled in the first TV in our house with black and white Santa coming to town.
And now I am on the giving end of traditions, the old ones and new things I have added. I know that my adult children will know exactly what we are having to eat at our house and will remember and even cook some of the same dishes no matter how far away they may be geographically. Or when I am not here at all.
Thanksgiving traditions will comfort me this year when I have had so many family members die. My brother Ronnie, my sister-in-law Romie, My cousins Barney, Sally, and Greta. And it will hurt like hell too. The generations of my family are shifting.
So the power and the pain of traditions will be with me this Thanksgiving.
I will make my mom’s Cranberry ice. It’s been served at at least 75 years continuously for Thanksgiving.
My daughter Megan will make Aunt Romies’ creamed onions. (Romie is my sister-in-law that died this year)
My daughter-in-law Augusta will make Aunt Romie’s rolls.
I will make my brother’s favorite candied sweet potatoes.
I will make mashed potatoes with only the very whitest potatoes. My mom’s rule.
I’ll use canned pumpkin pie filling–have to. It alone gives the right sense memory to me.
Of course we improvise. We’ll add kale salad. We’ll have many new side dishes. But the “traditional” customs in the form of food that pass through generations” have to be made.
I was once interviewed as a woman executive and was asked all kinds of questions about my expertise and contributions. It was a solid interview, not a puff piece. The last question was, “What will you be remembered for as people look back at your life?” I answered with, “my cranberry ice recipe” I explained its importance feeling kind of silly. The newspaper printed the recipe and made it central on the page. Still makes me happy.