One of my favorite scenes in the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is when the character Toula’s brother is giving her advice about life. He says, “Do not let your past define you; however, let it be part of who you will become.”
Toula, the college-age young woman, is trying to carve her own unique path in life and (initially) thinks she must shirk all her father’s Greek family traditions to do so – until she learns that traditions are important, and admits to loving her own and wanting them to be part of her life. Her father also learns that times change, and it’s okay to allow new facets to be incorporated into old traditions.
Many people today say they are so busy they have no time for such things. I find that sad, for when one allows life to become something akin to a wild tumbleweed, tossing and turning on turbulent waves of wind, some of the most beautiful gifts life has to offer may be lost – traditions, being high on the list.
Not only do traditions create a sense of belonging and comfort, but carrying on traditions with those we love helps lay the foundations that form our family histories. Each family’s traditions become the backbone of a shared existence within our nation (not forgetting the fact that patriotic and cultural traditions knit us all together as “one nation, under God).
Generally speaking, children are very open and welcoming to the idea of celebrating traditions. In fact, sometimes we might wonder whether our small efforts to create such memories and perpetual experiences within our families are even noticed, only to be surprised at just how much our children love and appreciate such things.
My husband and I have always allowed each child to choose a special meal and flavors of cake, ice-cream or other desserts, as well as any decorative theme they might like for their birthday celebrations. One item was always constant, no matter what each child chose over the years – a small banner with shiny, foil letters that spell out, “Happy Birthday,” that we’d hang on the wall. After years of wear and tear, our poor little banner was on its last legs. One day, while shopping with my then 13-year-old son, I grabbed a new banner from the party supply section and put it into the cart, not thinking anything of it. My son asked why I was getting that item, and I explained that our banner was old and falling apart; so, I thought I’d discard it and start using the new one. My son lamented the potential loss of the old banner. He told me it was “tradition” in our family and wouldn’t feel right if we just “tossed it out” and hung a different one. He said it did not matter that it was old or worn – what mattered is that we had hung the same banner for every birthday throughout his entire life, and that was “our tradition.”
I smiled, took the new banner out of our cart and put it back on the shelf.
Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.