Tradition. I am big into it. I want my kids to have conversations when they’re older about when we do xyz at Christmas or Thanksgiving or on Birthdays.
My husband’s family has mastered the art of traditions. Some are sweet (birthday fairy decorations). Some are lovely (shell rings for King girls). Some are downright insane (see pictures).
No matter how silly though, I’ve seen firsthand how these traditions aid in healing. We spent Saturday at my (wait for it) Grand-Mother-In-Law”s house. If you know Kevin, you know his grandmother Lala.
Lala was 103 years old and acted like your average 70 year old. Now, I don’t mean sassy- retirement village- elastic pants, bingo-playing seventy-five. I mean old-world class and style with the mind and memory of someone 50 years younger. She dressed every day in dress, hose and heels, before coming downstairs (oh yes, down stairs until 103). She knew everyone’s name and birthday, in a family that is so big I haven’t even met them all and I have been around 15 years. She was remarkable for her age (heck, with a memory like that-for any age).
But above all the age-related wonder, Lala was the epitome of kindness and grace. She had an uncanny ability to model the essence of being a lady all while putting everyone around her at ease. When you were with Lala, she made you feel like you were the only person in the room-no matter how big or small you were. My children revered her. The adults in my life felt the same.
Lala passed away a few short months ago. So, Mother’s Day at her house with two of her daughters, a son-in-law, four grand and three great-grandkids had the potential to be wrought with sadness.
Make no mistake, there was clearly something missing and we all felt it. So much so that The Baby kept taking the two stuffed bears that Lala loved and putting them in “her” chair. I guess he knew someone should be there and who better than Cubby and friends?
We went through the motions of dinner and had a good time laughing and joking as we are apt to do. As dinner ended, my FIL in his infinite wisdom decided to Parade the Cake. This is the silliest of family traditions, started by Lala’s beloved husband and enjoyed by every generation since. They sing a song, conga-line the cake around the house and then someone gets to stick their thumb right in the middle. (See-put everyone at ease.) It’s silly, embarrassing for newcomers, not-slightly unhygienic and exactly what the doctor ordered that night.
For a while, thanks to the Supreme silliness of Gagop and the genius timing of Gamps, there was pure joy at 308 Monmouth. We sang, we laughed and we relished in tradition.
Lala would be proud.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.