I would describe myself as a “traditional” kind of person. I may not have traditions, but I do want them. Traditions are important. They remind us of times that we could count on, safe, happy. All too often, we also recognize that traditions come to an end.
Most of my childhood, we had two kinds of get togethers, Sunday dinners and holiday meals. My grandmother was the common attraction as we all gathered for her. Sadly, we knew there would come a day that she would no longer be with us, and it was likely we would no longer get together. When she passed, those traditions were gone. I knew that it would happen.
In my adulthood, pre-parenthood, it was fairly easy, my 1st wife and I would just hop from one family to another on holidays. There were not really any thoughts or feelings behind these gatherings, because at this point in my life, I had become really jaded against holidays because of the various crisis that I had faced, commonly around the holidays.
But that changed with my second marriage, and the arrival of my daughters.
I had to start caring about the holidays again. As I child, I knew that it was important. It was also another chance for me to open my heart to holiday traditions, these of my own. Christmas, Easter, all of the different holidays would be fun again. At Easter, just as when I was a child, Easter baskets were hidden in the house, as well as some other fun plastic eggs with treats inside. I usually like to commit 100% to the act, but admittedly looking back, I failed in one aspect of proving the Easter Bunny had arrived. Sure, he at the carrot left for him, in retrospect, I should have scattered Cocoa Puff cereal on the floor just for effect. But, that is my sense of humor.
Our family had three separate celebrations each holiday, one for their mother, and one with my mother and one with my father. But Easter was the only holiday that my father asked to host. For years, he would cook a ham, and all the veggies. We scattered eggs in his backyard for my daughters to find.
Just as with the other holidays, the only bad thing, was that we spent the entire holiday, out on the road. With my parents living an hour away, that meant at least two hours on the road, and the countless hours visiting homes. My daughters barely had any time to enjoy their Easter goodies once we got home at the end of the night.
This was the last year that I celebrated Easter. It was 2014. My father was dying of lung cancer, and would succumb a month later. Without him hosting the annual Easter meal, just as with my grandmother, we no longer got together except for one more time, at my father’s funeral. Since then, either by my choice in some cases, and in some cases others, that has been the last time most of us have even spoken.
As if things were not spread thin enough as it was, with my parents being divorced, now my second wife and I in the process of divorce. Holidays were going to get much more complicated. In an attempt to keep things as civil as possible during proceedings, and coming to an understanding with custody, I made the unusual and unexpected decision to give their mother every holiday. It was an easy decision to make, given my feelings with holidays, and knowing they meant more to their mother, it would be one less source of friction as we brought our marriage to an end. I would work out a time period around those holidays, but the holidays themselves, with the exception of Father’s Day, would belong to her.
Time has flown by. One of my daughters is now of adult age, and the other is not far behind. This is going to give a whole new meaning to future holidays, because it will no longer be me doing the scheduling to see them, but when they can, and want to see me. I am hoping that they both continue their education, and then likely after that, they will begin to build their lives, and hopefully their own families. And that will mean their own traditions.
Will they remember the fun things I did to make their holidays memorable? I hope so. But they will also want to create their own. But if there is one thing I wish I could do over again, and I hope they learn from my mistake, make the holidays about themselves, and their children. Let their children enjoy these special fun days. They do not last forever. Yes, I know, that means I am likely going to be making the trips, but I am okay with that if that is how they build their own traditions.
Very well written and from the heart, as usual. You are so correct about traditions and what happens to them when the patriarch or matriarch dies. Yesterday, when I came home with my grandsons, I received a call that Jeff’s Mom had died in her sleep during the night. She was the one that brought us altogether with family gatherings, even after Jeff died. She always told me I was her favorite daughter-in-law. I will miss her very much and all our celebrations.
Lynn, I am so very sorry for your loss. It seems we relate on many different issues. Thank you for the kind words.