This morning, a friend joined us for coffee as conversation morphed into a discussion of family traditions. Jim lamented that while our family did take wonderful ski vacations, they all kind of blurred together as one without a distinct Hallmark memory, or monumental trip.
True, ours is not exactly a typical household. Probably in part because I have a tendency to relish change with as much zeal as others cling to traditions. And I raised two boys and married another who really had no interest in dying Easter eggs, putting lights on Christmas trees, or decorating cookies. I did try. And fail. One memorable Christmas I put up the tree, strung lights, hung ornaments, and within 48 hours, dissembled it in a menopausal rage and hauled everything back up to the garage attic. No one had even noticed that the tree was up, let alone the mother had done all the work.
I tried some things to reach their very short attentions. (And admittedly mine.) We loved going on “jammy rides” during the Holiday season, piling into the car in our pjs and cruising the neighborhoods to view the outstanding Halloween or Christmas light displays. During Advent, I wrapped up Christmas books, letting the boys select one a day to read. A note would be tucked inside each book that would suggest the family play a game, write a letter, pick up litter together, or eat an ice cream cone. And we especially loved our “bring and ring” tradition, where we would deliver goodie baskets to unsuspecting friends who never learned our identity. The kids would place the gift on the doorstep, ring the bell and dash back into our getaway car, sometimes as it was already scurrying away. Notably, friends look forward to our annual silly Christmas card, a practice that Jim and I each did separately before even marrying.
One longstanding tradition is our “clementine peel.” Each member peels the clementine and tries to do it in as few breaks as possible. Another custom is that the boys and I shoot bb guns together in the back yard. We shoot at targets, at pop cans, at rusty metal shovel heads. Joy is the sound of a ping, the sight of a soda spray. Our boys will remember that their parents took them to skate park after skate park, and encouraged their participation. (Can we claim that a tradition?) And we do play Euchre together, and enjoy other games. Many gift giving occasions are accompanied by a scavenger hunt through the yard and house in search of their present.
As I write this, I have come to an understanding of the rich Fox household traditions. Have fun, Be nice, try out a tradition or two but don’t let them rule your life. Instead be flexible and embrace the unexpected!