One day I was at the counter and I saw a duck on the fridge. I asked my mom, ” Why is that duck on the fridge?” My mom said, ”When I was little my grandmother had that duck on her counter. When we kids went over to her house she let each of us have a chocolate. Sometimes I would sneak a couple more chocolates into my mouth and nobody knew what I did. My grandmother called that duck Mrs. Duck.”
-by Holly Horse Lover, age 8
My daughter, “Holly Horse Lover,” wrote this little piece about a candy jar in our kitchen. Many years ago, this same ceramic duck graced my grandma’s counter top. And yes, she used to fill it with a variety of mini chocolates: Kit-Kat, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Hershey’s Dark Chocolate, Crackle, and Mr. Goodbar. And it is also true, that I used to sneak chocolates when everybody’s backs were turned! I loved chocolate, and am still an addict, to this very day! It struck me how this seemingly insignificant story from my childhood intrigued my sweet daughter. As I pondered her curiosity, a few thoughts came to mind.
Tradition. We often live our lives by default, lacking intentionality. What we need, is to establish family traditions that our children (and we ourselves) will come to cherish and treasure forever. Isn’t it interesting how often it happens, that when we think about our pasts, some of the memories that stand out the most are those involving tradition: some habit that our parents ALWAYS used to practice; or some object that ALWAYS sat on that SAME SHELF; or perhaps, some special scent we associate with our mothers; or a book that used to be read to us over and over again; or the way certain holidays were celebrated. Sometimes our memories are negative, and sometimes they are positive. I want to write here about positive memories.
What kind of beautiful memories can we create for, and with, our children? We need not spend lots of money; the most important ingredient is OURSELF. Let me illustrate. Just the other day, this same daughter came up to me for a hug, then commented, “I love the way you smell.” I had to ask. “Why?” She replied, “Well, when I was a baby, you would hold me against your shoulder, just like you hold the baby now, and I would put my head down on your shoulder, and I would smell your clothes; and that’s the way you smell! It’s such a nice, motherly smell.” And I would have never imagined it–my little girl cherishes the way I smell! I think it must not be so much the scent, but the person. Because I love her so very much, and because she also loves me as any child would her own mother, anything associated with me becomes connected in her mind with what’s good. Isn’t that charming? It leads me to think, if such bondings are formed un-intentionally, through our just being who we are, what sort of links might develop if we put some effort into it?
It doesn’t have to be a Mrs. Duck. It could be a game we play every Friday evening around the table, with popcorn. It could be the way we set the table, with a special bowl and cup for each child. It could be the way we tuck them into bed at night; with a story, a song, a prayer. Perhaps the way we celebrate their birthdays, or the customs we establish for different holidays. We don’t have to copy anybody else (unless we want to–there’s nothing wrong with copying a good idea!)…we have the potential for creating the most darling of memories with the raw peculiarities with which God has blessed our personalities.
So, what kind of traditions have you established for your family? Are there any special memories you would like to share about customs your family had when you were growing up? What do you think about setting family traditions into place? I always love to hear your feedback!