Family = tradition, with or without Tevye's musical accompaniment and the bleating of goats and the stomping of feet and the raising of much dust.
When I was a girl growing up in the wilds of western Idaho, Saturday nights meant Mom's hamburgers, and a handful of potato chips, and endless mugs of milk and quite possibly ice cream for dessert while we watched "Lawrence Welk" and "Hollywood Palace" and who knows what else. I have eaten a lot of good hamburgers in my life, but none as good as my mother's.
When I was married to the children's father, Christmas traditions for our very Mormon family included a surreptitious foray to Midnight Mass for the PapaBear and any of the children who were old enough to behave respectfully. He felt it was important for them to understand how other Christians celebrated the Savior's birth, and to have an appreciation of how the Catholics (and their cousins) kept the night light on during the Dark Ages. One of a number of things that he and I still agree on.
For several years after the divorce, Christmas -- like Berlin -- was divided. I had a family party for the girls on Christmas Eve, and they opened their presents from my side of the family. The older ones went to Mass with him, and he had them all for Christmas Day, which not-coincidentally got me out of cooking a big holiday dinner, so it was win/win. And they opened their presents from his side of the family.
And then came the first wedding, where I witnessed the groom's mother opening her home to her ex and his latest wife, and I learned a few things that I'm sure she didn't realize she was teaching, and I grew up a little. And either that Christmas or the one after that, I invited the PapaBear to "my" party. And there was rejoicing amongst the short people, and I still didn't have to endure the cooking and the cleaning-up of a family feast. [I also invited my boyfriend and my best guyfriend from church, one of whom was a peacemaker, and the other useful in case of a barfight. As the PapaBear's late mother used to say: Trust in Allah. Trust in Allah, but keep your camel tied.]
We have another tradition: that of the First Saturday Quilt Class, alluded to in a recent post. It began when my friend Brother Yummy told me about a fabric store he thought I would like. It was about a mile south of where I was working at the time, so I drove over on my lunch hour and fell in love -- it was a quilt shop!
I signed up for the block of the month club, and the next year Middlest joined me, and the year after that the shop closed, so we found the current venue in Lewisville, and Firstborn and Secondborn joined us. And somewhere along the way Fourthborn joined in, and LittleBit, who is not allowed to use my sewing machine until she takes home ec and learns on somebody else's. Which means I sew two blocks each month. Through the years the number of us participating has ebbed and flowed.
When I was younger and the girls were -- well, girls -- they pretty much didn't want to learn anything I was willing or able to teach them. Except cussing: I remember Firstborn in kindergarten, standing outside on the compost heap, yelling to Heaven, "Cwap! Dadgummit! I'm just so damn fwustwated!" And then there is the classic tale on LittleBit, who at 2 wanted to follow Firstborn and BoyDuJour down the sidewalk while they said their goodbyes, and got brought inside, and went back out and yelled from the porch the angriest thing she knew, which is a direct quote from The Princess Bride: "I want my father back, you bleepity-bleep!"
So it has been a pleasant surprise to watch them respond to the love of fine needlework that flows through their veins as surely as the hemoglobin, and to build traditions around that.
Another tribal tradition is Tuesday nights with the Gilmores. While we all agree that the writing last season left much to be desired, we are looking forward to Season Seven and hoping for better plotlines and more "Oye, with the poodles!" Gilmore-isms.
Since LittleBit came back from FL, we seem to be evolving a new tradition: Saturdays at the bookstore. I am the Anti-Mall, and I would prefer that none of my precious children, adult or otherwise, set foot within a hundred yards of it. But there were things that LittleBit wanted and/or needed for back to school which could only be obtained at the mall, and FourthBorn and Fiance were willing to chaperone, so I chilled out at the bookstore with my knitting and a stack of books to browse, while they all spent their hard-earned money and kept one another un-mugged.
This was our third Saturday in the new routine, and I have to say that it was a success. Browsed 4.5 books and put three of them on my "to buy" list. Knitted 15 rounds on the ribbing for Sock the Second. Remembered to call Secondborn back; she had called while we were at the high school getting LittleBit measured for her choir uniform and resisting the blandishments of the Booster Club. And once the kids were safely elsewhere, I tried a different sandwich, this one with turkey? ham? and cheese and honey mustard on pretzel bread and grilled to perfection.
When they came back and showed off their purchases, and their lack of bruising or bleeding or stitches, Fourthborn shared her jujubes [bought at the electronics store: who knew?], and Fiance bought treats for the girls. As LittleBit unwrapped her cookie and aimed it at her mouth, I wise-cracked in a surge of motherly relief, "Beam Me Up, Biscotti?"
[Bad puns are another family tradition.]
- Four years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!