tradition noun \trə-ˈdi-shən\ an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior.
When does a tradition begin? How does a tradition end? Which do you prefer? Isn’t it odd how we each react to traditions differently? Some of us thrive on tradition. We’re comforted by routine. We want dependability. We seek the familiar. Others are energized by change. We want to try something new. We like adventure. We seek variety.
Many of us like to balance between the two. That’s me. I get bored doing the same thing over and over. I thrive on the challenge of balancing many different types of tasks, travelling to new places, finding solutions to new problems. Yet I like some things in my life to be consistent…so I keep my house clean, walk almost every day, and have (somewhat) predictable eating habits. I don’t need every family gathering to be exactly the same as the last one, but I like some familiarity.
…and today I experienced some of that familiarity.
The “tradition” didn’t begin as a tradition at all. My mom was simply feeding her family. But Mom’s fried chicken and french fries became a favorite as we were growing up on the family farm. Perhaps it was because she could make a lot for people helping in the fields or because the chicken tasted good, hot or cold, when she delivered it to my dad during harvest. I know it wasn’t a favorite because it was quick and easy, because it made a mess, and the fried food odor permeated the house for the entire day!
My memories of many family picnics and gatherings include fried chicken and french fries. Yum!
Then the three of us daughters grew up. We didn’t want to eat fried foods as we watched our weight. We weren’t at home as often, so Mom didn’t need to make big meals. We had other favorites we requested during family gatherings. Fried chicken and french fries were misplaced in the shuffle of childhood memories…until recently.
I don’t know who mentioned it first, but I think it was at the girls’ gathering this Summer, which has become another family tradition, where all the girls from three generations spend a Summer weekend together. Once the memory seed of the scrumptious meal was planted, the campaign was on!
I’m not going into details, but suffice it to say several of us have varying perspectives of what transpired over the past couple weeks. A couple of us decided to employ persuasive techniques such as encouraging everyone in the family to text, call and Facebook Mom to “request” fried chicken and french fries at the upcoming dinner. Involving the grandchildren was genius. After all, what grandma says “no” to her grandchildren’s requests, such as…
“I’m so excited for the chicken! I can’t believe you never told me about fried chicken, how sad. And the fries sound AMAZING. If you need any help, I’d be glad to help. I can’t believe I’ve been deprived of this family tradition for so long.”
“Grandma, I cant wait till the famous fried chicken-yum !!!! And your homemade ice cream!”
Not everyone perceived our tactics as creative and encouraging. I’m not naming any names, but one person in the family accused us of being “whiney and pushy”! Humph. But no one can deny our campaign was persuasive.
Yes, the house smelled like fried foods, and we probably all still smell like a fast food restaurant. Yes, we could have eaten a much more healthy meal (fortunately, none of us have doctors’ visits or blood tests scheduled for this week!). Yes, we could have eaten something much more simple to fix. But in typical Mom and Dad style, they went above and beyond and added to the menu: freshly harvested corn, homemade apple sauce, and much more, including fresh fruit pies and homemade ice cream.
(Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
Dinner was delicious. While I don’t expect a repeat menu soon, it’s okay. What’s more important to repeat is an even better tradition…getting together with my family. My favorite memory of the day is of Mom turning away from the hot, greasy stove with a huge smile to face the three of us daughters. Despite the exhausting work, she was just happy that most of her family (missed you Caitlin and Ian!) were together for a couple hours. And for that moment, we were actually getting along!
It takes wisdom to have a good family, and it takes understanding to make it strong. Proverbs 24:3