Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Traditions!


Today I've been thinking about "Fiddler on the Roof." ( great musical by the way.) But the reason I"ve got it on my mind is because Thanksgiving had me thinking about traditions and my great attachment to them.
I loved Thanksgiving as a child. Just the thought of it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Every Thanksgiving we drove to my Grandparents home in St. George. I loved trying to be the first one to spot the temple as we entered the valley. I loved the smell of wood burning fires coming from the neighbor's chimneys to warm the crisp morning air. But mostly I loved being in Grandma's house. She made all of us feel so special. When you were with Grandma you knew that at that moment you were the most loved and important child on all the earth. I loved the food- just the way she cooked it with the salad chopped into very small pieces and the stuffing with lots of sage. I loved the table settings with the little clay pilgrim people she made and painted for each spot. Every year I find myself wanting to create for my children a Thanksgiving like I had, and so I find myself wrapped up in specific food and place-settings. Somehow I have attached my love for my family and my sweet Grandmother to those little things- those traditions- and the thought of letting go breaks my heart. Living in NY can be a bummer because we live too far from family to take my kids to their Grandma's house for Thanksgiving. I want them to have the kind of memories that I do.
So this brings me to the "Fiddler on the Roof" parallel. "Tevye," the main character in the musical, struggles with his daughters wanting to do things their own way. He wants to stick to the old ways, the traditions, because there is security and comfort in keeping things the way they always have been. Eventually he learns that he has to let go and allow the next generation to live their own lives in their own way. I am a lot like Tevye. I want my kids to have what I had so I get stuck on "traditions" like specific foods and table decor. ( Stanton would say -I'm just a control-freak, which is also true) But what I'm realizing is that Thanksgiving was so wonderful because of the love I felt, not because of what I ate or wear I ate it.
Here in NY we spend most of our holidays with our close friends and they are our family here in the East and I love them dearly. But because of my problem with traditions and letting go, whenever a holiday dinner approaches I feel a desperate need to host and make all the food -so that I can make sure things go just like so. (I have recently found out that some friends have interpreted my "control-freak"-iness as a negative commentary on their cooking skills-which is absolutely not the case.) I'm just trying to protect myself from the homesickness I feel during the holidays since we moved here. So I'm going to try harder to relax and be more open to the new memories and traditions we're creating for our own little family.
We'll be spending Christmas here in New York this year so there are many things I will miss about home- like Dad's red sweater, lining up on the stairs for the annual picture in pajamas, and Mom's hugs that can warm you to your toes. But I can actually feel a panic attack come on at the the thought of not having Mom's raspberry jello. Can it be Christmas without it? Honestly- I'm not sure.

1 comment:

Denise said...

I totally relate to this. Daniel is always chiding me that I'm too hung up on traditions, but they are really an intrinsic part of who I am. The family traditions I grew up with shaped my attitudes, memories, really so much of my character and many of the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that I hold dear.

I have never thought of you as a control freak -- and if you are one, then I'm one too. And here's to traditions! They are the glue that binds families together.

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