Family Traditions

Every family has traditions - from the meals we eat to the way we celebrate holidays and weddings.

Growing up in my family, on Christmas morning we couldn't go down into the living room and open presents until all the family was accounted for. That may not seem like a big deal but I'm the 7th of 10 kids. So that meant my older siblings, who were out late with friends the night before, would have to be dragged out of bed before us little ones could go open our presents! One year there were 5 bicycles waiting for us "younger five." Woo Hoo! That was a monumental year for sure, a big difference from the usual pajamas, socks, and other practical things.

My husband and I have carried out that same tradition and our three kids have never minded. When they were young they would congregate on my oldest daughters bed and wait while my husband dragged ME out of bed! Now we have grandkids, and on the Christmas mornings when they are here, no one goes into the living room until we are all ready, and there are always socks for someone to open!

On St. Patrick's Day my mom would cook a corned beef. The proper way to prepare it in my house was to cook it in a pot of water and then drain the excess water by letting it "rest" with a weighted board on top of it. The "weight" was actually a rock that had been painted by one of my siblings. I have no idea how other people cook corned beef, but my mom had her way. Did she learn it from her mom or make it up herself? I don't know.

Weddings can have a lot of traditions too; who walks the bride down the isle, what music is played, what dances to do at the reception, and so on. Those are some of the obvious ones. Then there are the "shoulds"; like who should be in the wedding party, who should pay for what, and what should the vows be. Some choices are new and become traditions for the next generation. They have to start somewhere, right?

Occasionally traditions become expectations that cause problems between parents and the wedding couple. I remember a client telling me that she was afraid her very traditional mom was going to try to influence everything about her wedding; from her dress to the food at the reception. I encouraged my client to have a heart to heart talk with her mom, listening with an open mind as well as sharing what was important to her. They made some nice compromises and her mom said, "I just want you to be happy."

Have those conversations. Celebrate some old traditions and make up some new ones! And remember to talk about all the meals you'll share and holidays you'll celebrate as your two families come together as one.

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