Friday, May 20, 2022

Rhys on Traditions.

  RHYS BOWEN: We arrived home to California after the winter in Arizona and immediately started a big clearing out of closets and desks. Do I really need this? How many pens does John actually need? Why does he need to keep a flag from Sri Lanka? He is never going to fly it over our house (I hope).


This process has made me think of all the things we don’t use any longer. Jelly molds in the shape of a rabbit?  Uh no. Birthday candles (no. Buy when needed). Frosting in different colors (ditto). But it has also made me realize that the festive side of life seems to have disappeared. I bought a women’s magazine for the plane ride and it had all these wonderful ideas for Easter decorations–dying eggs, making centerpieces, cakes in the shape of a lamb or a rabbit etc etc.







Who does that any more? I did once dye eggs when the children were small, but I have never made a cake in the shape of a lamb, or made my own chocolate bunnies. Am I a failure as a mother, I wonder? (I did write a series of clues for each child to hunt for their Easter basket, and that went on to the grandchildren until they went away to college)


 On the whole our only celebration is a good meal for a birthday or holiday. The exception is Christmas when I do decorate the whole house. However I limit my baking to the traditional sausage rolls and mince pies. No more cookies or the Stollen I used to make. If I want baked goods, i’ll buy them.


In a way it’s sad that so many traditions are disappearing, simply because we don’t have enough time. Or is this just in America where we have all lost our roots? The Chinese community in San Francisco still has its famous festivals, so has the Latino with its Carnival. But being British we have no real holidays to celebrate:--the only one that comes to mind is Guy Fawkes Day and that's to celebrate the execution of the man who tried to blow up parliament. Hardly the most peaceful or joyous of occasions!

 

When I was a child they put up a maypole at my primary school on May 1 and we danced around it, weaving ribbons in and out. In England they still have village cricket matches, all the pomp and ceremony with the royal family, and village fetes in the summer, with booths selling baked goods and all the carnival games as well as races for children (egg and spoon race? Sack race?) They are a tradition in most villages still.  


I wonder if there will be parades again, this Fourth of July, which is as close to a holiday celebration as we get around here. I always enjoyed the local parades with decorated bicycles and cub scouts marching out of rhythm. We may have a family picnic. I may even buy red, white and blue plates and there might be fireworks. 


So who still celebrates holidays in a big way? Who still has family traditions? Do you think that most of these will be lost forever?


LUCY BURDETTE: I hope they won’t all be lost Rhys! Seems like some have gone to the wayside because our society is less formal than it used to be. Possibly less church-oriented too.  Growing up, we always had fancy meals with the same dishes for Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving. Now our holidays are much more relaxed. Probably part of it is because our family isn’t close by, and the kids are grown. They carry on some of the traditions for their kids–Christmas stockings, Easter baskets…

As for me, I’m still baking all kinds of things! (I’ll happily take and use your birthday candles, Rhys.) And I know our town will have a 4th of July parade–it’s very charming and very well attended and we wouldn’t miss it.



 HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, it’s such a process, and doesn’t it depend a bit on whether there are children? Here in New England, July 4th is adorable, I have to  say. We love going to the LIncoln town parade, where they have marching moms and veterans, and junior high school bands and dogs and haywagons and old-fashioned firetrucks, and lots of proud veterans.  And lots of happy kids and dripping ice cream cones And the fireworks on the Esplanade, with the 1812 Overture and  booming cannons. Not to be missed. And ooh, I always have birthday candles.  Those things are markers, no matter how we celebrate.


JENN McKINLAY: I bake a bunny cake every year for Easter, and birthday cake upon request. At Christmas I am in a frenzy of baking cookies, usually. But there is a shift when the children get older. 


On the Hooligans’ birthdays, from the time they were little, I would decorate the house with streamers, a huge Happy Birthday sign and balloons, and while they were sleeping I would barricade their bedroom doorway with streamers and balloons so they had to bust their way out. So fun! But now they’ve moved out and we’re empty nesters…*sigh*

I think traditions just shift and change with the family. Although, if the Hooligans have kids, I really hope they barricade their bedroom doors, too, and keep the tradition going! 


HALLIE EPHRON: We did more when the kids were little. There had to be a homemade chocolate cake with chocolate icing decorated with nonpareils for each birthday. We colored easter eggs and ate chocolate bunnies even though we don’t celebrate Easter. My kids and grands troop over to watch the marathon runners when they race through Brooklyn and find a spot to watch July 4 fireworks, from a distance. At Christmas I make chocolate-covered orange rind and chocolate turtles. And we have our special dishes that I’m happy to make to celebrate special occasions.

We’ve all got our own traditions, some more elaborate and public than others. I remember being in London on Remembrance Day and having no idea why people were wearing poppies.


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Agreed about things calming way down after the children are grown. And let’s face it - all the baking and decorating and sign making and basket hiding: who is doing that? Women, that’s who. Tired women who just want a break after making holidays magical for 25 years. I love my family tradition of huge dinner parties on Christmas and Easter (and every third Thanksgiving) but honestly, it was nice to not have them during the past two years. 


Like Jenn, I hope and expect my kids will revamp our earlier celebrations when they get around to having their own children. I’ll show up with chocolate in a stocking/basket and enjoy admiring my daughters’ and

daughter in law’s hard work.


DEBORAH CROMBIE: I've never been much for holiday baking, and I think I can safely say I've never made a proper birthday cake. I somehow seem to have missed the gene, much I'm sure to my daughter's disappointment. I'm very fond of some of the traditions we do have, but most of those have really fallen by the wayside in the pandemic. We went out for both Easter and Mother's Day brunch this year, and that's a new tradition I'd be happy to continue–no one having to spend hours in the kitchen!


RHYS: I agree, Debs. Nothing that involves hours in the kitchen for me! But Hank is right about needing to have children around for traditions to be meaningful.

So who does carry on family traditions? Bunny cakes?


71 comments:

  1. I think it’s true that many of the traditions that are part of holiday celebrations are child-centered. I always made special, fancy cakes for birthdays; we colored eggs and I made all the chocolate candies at Easter. I never made an Easter lamb cake, but my daughter makes one every year; this year, I sent her a ladybug pan in her birthday gift box and she made a ladybug birthday cake. I always made Easter egg bread; I still do, even though it’s just the two of us these days.

    I still do holiday baking and fix special meals for holidays . . . sometimes, it’s difficult to ignore the tradition, or to simply let it slide by . . . .

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    1. Child-centered or family centered. When one has no children, and one's parents are deceased, and one's siblings are all over the country, and a pandemic keeps people from gathering, celebrations tend to go by the waysidel Maybe when it's safe to plan a gathering again....

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    2. Your traditions sound so lovely Joan. Ellen, yes, being single makes it harder, and the pandemic has really thrown a wrench in all our lives. Enough, right?

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    3. Child-centered Christmases "always"...thankful, as only child, that my mother always made Christmas magic...even when we tripped over each other acting as Santa with the stockings.

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  2. I agree with the comments made by Joan & Ellen about many celebrations being focused on children and/or family. Since I had no kids, siblings or parents, family celebrations are not a thing I do. And multiple pandemic lockdowns & social distancing limits meant holidays, parades or festivals were cancelled or went virtual.

    I miss the Canada Day (July 1) celebrations at Parliament Hill/downtown Ottawa. It's one of the few days when I saw thousands of Canadians proudly wear red & white and waving Canadian flags. A spectacular fireworks show has also been MIA since 2019.

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    1. Here's hoping we can get back to a good normal Grace!

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    2. ROBERTA: Well, Ottawa has announced they will have Canada Day celebrations this year but there will still be a change. The multi-year renos on Parliament Hill means there is no longer room for the massive Canada Day stage for the noon and evening shows so they will be moving the celebration to LeBreton Flats. It's a 30 minute walk from home, instead of a 5-minute stroll but that's ok.

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    3. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 20, 2022 at 8:31 AM

      It’s a sense of community, isn’t it, Grace? Traditions do that, too— sometimes traditions are to bring families together, sometimes they are to bring communities together. And with Covid that has gotten more and more difficult. And sometimes that means the danger outweighs the joy, and that is very sad.

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    4. HANK: Yes, community, and Canada Day is one of rare days when we proudly show our patriotic side. The Canada Day shows are broadcast nationally on CBC, with links to other regional celebrations coast-to-coast.

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  3. We used to have traditions, but now it's non-existent.

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  4. I carry on the Christmas cookie baking, but I only put up a tree and do stockings if a son or two will be home. I did bake some wonderful birthday cakes for my sons as they were growing up. I'd ask them what they wanted their cake to look like and made it happen: a bug, a fire engine, a building (hey, he asked for one!), a soccer ball, a cowboy hat.

    My town has a lovely Christmas/holiday parade. A years ago my Quaker Meeting was going to walk, so I dressed up as Rose Carroll and walked with another Friend outfitted as John Greenleaf Whittier. Holiday spirit AND book promotion in one package!

    I still host Easter brunch and Thanksgiving for family and friends and love doing it (but a lot of the cooking is done by the guests). I hope to get back to dying eggs and carving pumpkins when grandkids come along

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    1. EDITH: I love that you dressed up as Rose Carroll. I wonder how many authors dress up as their fictional characters? Do you have a photo?

      Diana

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    2. EDITH: I don't bake Christmas cookies, but I do like making holiday treats such as stollen or handmade chocolate truffles around Christmas. I used to give these out as gifts but because of the pandemic, I get those goodies mostly to myself. That's good & bad!

      No Christmas holiday parade in Ottawa but we do have the Christmas Lights across the downtown. I would have loved to seen you dressed as Rose Carroll.

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    3. You can see a video (at my maximum weight, alas) and two stills of me dressed as Rose here! Scroll past the books. https://edithmaxwell.com/books/quaker-midwife-mysteries/

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    4. Thanks! And I smiled at the photo of you with Whittier getting his first cell phone.

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  5. Not much in the way of traditions here, although I'm happy to see the start of a new one. My great grandnephew and great grandniece (that's a lot to write so let's just say The Twins) are turning one next month and we're attending their birthday picnic at a local park. The best part? I buy and wrap presents (books, of course!) and just show up.

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    1. ANNETTE: Books as gifts are always the best gifts! I love receiving books for Christmas. In Iceland, they have a tradition of giving books as gifts on Christmas Eve.

      Diana

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  6. The year my mother died, prior to her passing, the extended family gathering at Christmas Eve was ended. First held by my grandparents, and then my aunt, the decision was made to end it because it was a lot of work for my aunt and some family drama going on with others. Since then Christmas isn't a big deal for me. I don't spend much time celebrating any holiday nowadays except for Thanksgiving because I get invited to a friend's house for the meal. Unlike most, I don't necessarily miss most things but the Christmas gathering was one I liked (my aunt always had such great food!)

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  7. My brother's first wife and I never got along very well, but she did bring the family together in turn with me, taking every other holiday. His third wife is a much kinder and more lovely person, but she and my brother have a big blended family (six wild grandkids under eight!), and that's about all they can manage in one place.

    Now that my kids are scattered all over the world we try to get together once a year. However, traditions I held dear have been supplanted by ones they've started. The coffeecake I made on Christmas morning for decades? Cinnamon rolls from a can and mimosas. The homemade birthday cakes I made? My daughter insists on ones from a certain bakery. Whatever. I'd rather be with them than have my own way.

    In my hometown there were always parades, and one of my favorite memories was walking in the Memorial Day parade, proudly wearing my Red Cross Volunteen uniform (Candystriper!), with the other high school girls who volunteered at the hospital. Our community has a parade every Fourth, but in forty years we've never been. It used to be a big, big deal to go watch fireworks on the Fourth of July, and then again downtown Cincinnati's big Labor Day display that rivals any other, but now there are fireworks so often that it's just annoying. Our friends, for their 40th anniversary in December, had a shindig on a party boat on the Ohio, culminating in an embarrassingly huge fireworks show downtown. I bet a lot of people were wondering why on earth there were booms and sky show at that time of year.

    Lately I've been trying to get back to a sense of occasion, though. We've had several get-togethers here with friends in the last couple of months, with homecooked food and guest pampering. I miss that era of gracious entertaining, and as long as I have the energy for it, I'm determined to keep it up once in awhile. I'll let you know!

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    1. That's such a smart approach Karen--forget about what you did and enjoy your family!

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    3. KAREN: Yes, hosting a nice homecooked meal with friends is still something that I miss doing. We are still pretty hesitant about getting together to do this despite the sixth wave cases dropping dramatically. Many of us are not eligible to get our second booster shot until June. Maybe after that...
      P.S. Why did Blogger get rid of the preview function?!

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    4. Grace, I find I actually prefer the way it is now. Misspelled words are shown with the red squiggles now, so they're easier to find, and the typeface in the comment box is larger than the one in the reading panes, which also makes it easier to preview.

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  8. I agree with those who say kids power a lot of these holidays. When The Girl turned one, I made an attempt at a cake shaped like Winnie the Pooh. Let's just say I bought cakes after that. But now The Girl is out of the house and while The Boy is back, he's almost 20...it's just not the same. A holiday is more about a good meal and time talking current affairs or sports than big decorating.

    The Boy recently said we were never a family that got everyone together on the holidays. But with most of the family hours away, it wasn't easy. Again, we did more when they were little. And it doesn't help that The Hubby is not a holiday celebration person - except for cookies at Christmas. LOL

    And yes, Julia, it's kind of nice not to have to cook for twelve these days!

    My nephews are now 3 and less than 1. I'm sure there's more celebrating going on up there (especially since the 3-year-old's birthday is Halloween), but alas, I'm 3 1/2 hours away.

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  9. Traditions are wonderful. When I learned about the Icelandic tradition of Christmas Eve gifts (book flood), I decided to adopt that tradition. I am always learning about new traditions and if it sounds like something I would like, then I start a new tradition like the Icelandic tradition.

    Growing up, we always had Christmas in our home. I remember decorating with Christmas cards from family and friends. We used to have a tradition of buying Christmas trees. Not now. Perhaps someday we will get the Balsam Hill fake tree. I loved Easter when I was a young child. I would get ONE marshmallow chocolate bunny from the grocery store. In our family, we have a tradition of baking cakes and cookies. With the knowledge that we cannot have dairy nor wheat, baking is now a challenge!

    When I was a young child, we used to go to the Dickens Christmas Faire in the City (San Francisco) then they stopped doing that. Before the pandemic, we had a tradition of going to see the Nutcracker Ballet during the Christmas season. Many years ago, they had Sign Language interpreters for A CHRISTMAS CAROL and when they stopped. we ended the tradition of seeing the play.

    Traditions means chances to celebrate. I remember a Scandinavian friend baked many Christmas cookies of different kinds.

    With the ongoing pandemic (when will it be over?), traditions had to be adjusted. We used to go to the 4th of July parade.

    Speaking of poppies, I remember seeing Veterans of the First World War selling poppies when I was a young child. My mom told me about my Grandfather serving in the First World War. I cannot remember the last time I saw Veterans selling poppies to raise funds for Veterans' organizations.

    We have Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. Though we do not participate, I know of many people who have traditions of traveling or having a BBQ or both.

    Diana

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    1. DIANA: We have Victoria Day celebrations this weekend but no downtown fireworks are occurring (again). Instead, the evening fireworks will take place a day earlier on Sunday evening to end the 70th Tulip Festival at Commissioner's Park (an hour's walk from my place).

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    2. I love the Ottawa tulip festival. Only went once, but I'd love to go again

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    3. GRACE: The Victoria Day celebrations and the Tulip Festival sound lovely. Hope everyone will be masked!

      Diana

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    4. My former sister-in-law is half Icelandic, but they didn't do the book flood tradition. In fact, it was me giving the boys books at Christmas, ironically.

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    5. KAREN IN OHIO, sometimes that happens. Sounds like she did not grow up in Iceland, right?

      Diana

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    6. DIANA and JC: The Tulip Festival was "virtual" in 2020 & 2021 so it's nice to see the 100s of varieties of tulips in person. Bus loads of international visitors are coming back to Ottawa for the first time since 2019. We badly need the boost to the tourism sector. Since most events are outdoors, most people are not masked.

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    7. Hope that they will at least social distance at 6 feet apart?

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    8. I just remembered one tradition. My granddaughters and I attend the Nutcracker every year. It starts the holiday season for us.

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    9. DIANA: I wish. There are thousands of people on the weekends standing side-by-side taking photos. I have been going earlier (and on weekdays) to avoid these crowds. I doubt I will go down to see the Sunday fireworks.

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    10. You're right, Diana, my sister-in-law grew up here in Ohio, and even though her mother was Icelandic, she and her sister also did not live in their parents'native country.

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    11. RHYS: I love that tradition of attending the Nutcracker every year. When the pandemic is finally over, I can do that again. It is really hard for me to keep my mask on for a long time. I know it is still a necessity to wear mask every time I venture out as long as there is a pandemic.

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    12. GRACE: I feel the same way. I feel bad that people do NOT socially distance. I always try to avoid crowds. I often turn my back on people who are not wearing masks. The other day a MASKLESS person was standing on the sidewalk asking people to sign petition. I walked by and turned my back!

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    13. KAREN IN OHIO: Your ex sister in law and her family are not alone. Many first generation Americans felt the pressure to assimilate into America that they gave up many traditions. Some of my ancestors gave up their traditions too. When I found out about the Book Flood tradition, I thought it was a wonderful tradition.

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  10. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 20, 2022 at 8:34 AM

    It’s funny though, one year Jonathan and Diaz, here by ourselves, decided we did not need to have Thanksgiving dinner. But the day before Thanksgiving— we realized just could not skip it! So we dashed to the grocery, in the chaos that is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving—, another tradition! And bought turkey and all the accompaniments.,

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    1. The scariest part of that last-minute shopping is that most of the leftover turkeys are in the freezer case!

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    2. Hank, darling, who is Diaz? (I am giggling, expecting that it was Autocorrect doing its worst again - but maybe I'm wrong?)

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    3. Diaz? I am also intrigued... I am trying to imagine a house with Jonathan, Hank and.... Diaz? The alluring Puerto Rican housekeeper? Jonathan's alluring Mexican secretary?

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    4. Hmmm, maybe Hank is using voice dictation, and there is no Diaz? Otherwise, I am also curious, who this is!

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    5. Maybe Diaz is another one of Hank's imaginary cats?

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    6. HANK: I love Thanksgiving. It is the only time of the year when I like turkey gravy. Now I cannot eat turkey anymore. That was a wonderful tradition. Now I eat something else for Thanksgiving. I think we continue to have pumpkin pie and stuffing.

      Diana

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    7. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 21, 2022 at 11:38 AM

      Oh, that’s so funny! Because if I were dictating, as I often do as you know, that isn’t what would come out! and I tried it a couple of times a minute ago just to see. It was supposed to be “and I.” Our invisible dog is named Wheatie (an invisible wheaten terrier), so that isn’t who that was :-) You all are hilarious!

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    8. Hank Phillippi RyanMay 21, 2022 at 11:39 AM

      And yes, gravy! Yummy. My absolute cooking nemesis, but I will conquer it someday!

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  11. When our daughter was growing up I always made a big Christmas dinner, the works, including homemade mince pies and trifle for dessert. As she grew up and got married she would come with her husband and they would help, (she never did before :-))! Little by little they took over the dinner prep, then some of the side dishes – always the washing up. I wasn't sure if I liked that at first. Eventually, my husband and I just sat back, the kids came over early, got stuck in and prepared the whole meal while we drank Christmas cocktails and watched the Queen's speech. Now we head for the sun in the winter and I miss it the occasion, I really do, but struggling through snowdrifts and freezing rain in December doesn't excite me any more, if it ever did. Eventually they will come down for Christmas on the beach, yay!

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    1. Joyce, a friend who retired to Hawai'i told me if you live in a vacation destination, your kids will always find a way to visit you!

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    2. Oh, and I wanted to applaud you on having a daughter who so gracefully lightened your work little by little. You hear a lot of stories about Granny being stuck in the kitchen while everyone else enjoys themselves - after enough years at the helm, you deserve to kick back and sip cocktails!

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    3. I sat back on Mother's Day this year and watched my sons and their sweetheart make dinner. And somehow my champagne glass kept getting refilled!

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    4. Joyce, we lived in Australia for a while and I found Christmas in summer so hard to take.

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  12. When I was a child, my family had some wonderful traditions, but nothing fancy. We were not a fancy family. We got together with another family (mom had worked with Bill when both were librarians at Reed College) on Epiphany and Labor Day. Bill and Bette had a daughter who was one month younger than my twin and me and we were good friends, On Epiphany, there were presents for the children (the magi brought presents for the baby Jesus + mom could hit the after-Christmas sales, win/win!) and a cake with 3 beans or coins baked inside. Whoever got the beans or coins got paper crowns and got to be the three kings. On Labor Day, we went for a picnic, either in a city park or out to the Sandy River--huge treat on the day before school began.

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  13. Celebrations seem to naturally shrink as children leave home and parents get older. And more tired. We adopted our children when they were 11 and 12 years old. Building traditions, and even building a family was difficult. My birthday is the fourth of July, so that was a big deal - we watched the parade and fireworks.
    As for community celebrations and traditions, we have a great one here in Plattsburgh, NY (Julia's birthplace). On September 11, 1814, there was a battle in Plattsburgh Bay on Lake Champlain. The Americans defeated the British. So Plattsburgh has a weekend celebration each year. Reenactors (American and Canadian) camp on the grounds of the historic Kent Delord House. Historic crafts, games, herbalism, etc. are demonstrated. Some are demonstrated by volunteers from the Chateau Ramezay museum in Montreal, some by locals - dressed in period dress. And the parade! Pipe and drum bands, fife and drum bands (Plattsburgh, Connecticut, and Canada), the US Marine band (one of them), and the concert band of Cobourg, Ontario - a big brass band dressed in red jackets and black pants. They are her majesty's royal marine auxiliary band - or something like that.
    After the parade the bands do a military tattoo in front of city hall. They play the anthems of US, Canada, Britain, plus Highland Cathedral. In the evening the Cobourg band gives a concert in the renovated Strand Theater. They march in with American, British, and Canadian flags and play the anthems again. They give a lovely concert, with commentary, often funny, about the pieces they play. The audience sings all the anthems, and we stand, link arms, and sway together as we sing 'united we stand, divided we fall..'
    So far, the tradition is going strong except for missed covid years. Looking forward to this year.

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    1. JC, I've heard of the reenactment, but you make it sound absolutely delightful. I'm going to have to make a trip to see this!

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    2. JC: The Plattsburgh weekend celebrations sounds like a great international collaboration. Enjoy!

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    3. Yes - very delightful and very international. Especially for an event that honors a battle between former enemies. Would that such conflicts cease and we are left only with celebrations...

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  14. I came from a family with very few traditions. I married the eldest of eight children, and his family's traditions of gathering for Thanksgiving and the weekend after Christmas (so each nuclear family could do their own thing on the actual day) became somewhat of a focal point for us. Interestingly, our only child (now 28) really latched onto those traditional family gatherings and while overall I'd say interest in them has waned in the big extended family, to the extent they still happen, our son will ALWAYS try to be there.

    Other than those two, we usually do a big sit-down meal for Easter but there is no particular tradition around what we serve; Columbus has one of the biggest Independence Day fireworks displays in the Midwest, so our family usually starts into the center city by late afternoon and enjoys the festivities that lead up to the fireworks; Christmas involves hubby and me singing at midnight mass, the opening of gifts Christmas morning, and a festive meal shared by the three of us plus my sister, but the specifics have become much more flexible over the years as circumstances have necessitated. Birthdays are the dinner of the birthday boy/girl's choice.

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    1. Susan, I think you've hit on an important aspect of keeping traditions: "the specifics have become much more flexible over the years." If you try to maintain everything the way it was when kids were small and the whole family lived no more than an hour away from each other, you wind up making a straitjacket out of what used to be a treasured event. Modifying the traditions, modernizing them, and giving everyone lots of grace and space are SO important.

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  15. The littlest among us turned 7 yesterday--for his birthday meal he began listing all his favorite dishes from holidays. His dad commented, 'sounds like Christmas dinner!' The little guy said he loved holiday dinners and Christmas was his favorite. So there. For his birthday party, cake and ice cream and a pinata for the kids to whack. His age-mate cousin's birthday party involved an hour's trek away to a kids' 'adventure' venue. How would you top that next year? The year after? We keep our celebrations simple, but that seems to suit us all--being together with good food and each other is what makes a day special.

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  16. I come from a sprawling French/Italian/German family. As a child, my parents kept all the holiday traditions - yule logs, Santa bringing the tree, gifts on little Christmas, trips to the woods to cut a tree (always way too big, but it looked so small surrounded by its brethren - Easter eggs, Easter baskets, homemade chocolates, trips to the farm for apples and apple cider, maple syrup in the spring, parades, fireworks, the works. Houses overflowing with family who swapped out who had the duty for each holiday and who was bringing their specialties. Mom baked cakes for every birthday - we go to select our favorite, you get the picture.

    I never had kids so a lot of those magical traditions fell by the wayside. I did get involved with law enforcement, and every holiday ran an open house all you could eat party. Anyone on duty was welcome to drop by for a meal. I once had a new neighbor call to ask if I needed help. My house was surrounded by police cars. Turned out her brother was a cop and my neighbors and their family joined in the festivities.

    Now we live in Maine and our traditions have moderated again. We celebrate each holiday with a few close friends, and yes, my German side rules at Christmas - I start baking the weekend after Thanksgiving. Good thing pastry freezes well!

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  17. I've been thinking about the other holidays--you know, shoes outside the door for St. Nicholas etc. When I was a student in Germany there was a lovely procession on Corpus Christi for all the first communicants of the town in their adorable outfits. And on the first day of school each child is given a goody bag containing a chocolate ladybug among other things. I think Europe is still more firmly rooted in religious traditions because one region always had the same religion.

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    1. Your mention of Corpus Christi reminded me of watching the procession with you in Castellini de Chianti. It harked all the way back to my Catholic childhood in the 1950s, and long forgotten religious rites I hadn't even realized had gone away.

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  18. I think traditions should change when they become more of a chore and a bore than a joy. My favorite holidays have always been the ones where we travel. Thanksgiving in San Diego? Yes, please. Christmas on Anna Maria Island? Absolutely. Those are the ones my boys remember, too, so I would be more than happy to travel more during holidays, especially now that the world is opening up.

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    1. JENN: I agree that traditions should be more fun than more of a chore. Diana

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  19. We had traditions around Christmas when we were children but they did not survive as we spread across the continent and lived very different lives. My father's last illness created a surprising legacy. My far flung sisters and I began to speak every week to discuss his situation and his care. We have continued the practice for several years now, which for 4 sisters who had trouble remembering one another's birthdays, is a big thing.

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  20. I have pictures of me in my Easter dress, coat, hat, and brand new shoes. However, traditions are not the same as they were that many (cough) years ago. I still bake cookies and make my dad's fudge recipe. Our families live in other states, so this baking frenzy is for the purpose of assuring hubs and I will pack on enough "winter weight" to keep us warm and toasty in Dec.-Jan.

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  21. I'm in agreement that children in the house are the impetus for most of the special touches on birthdays and holidays. I like your statement, Julia, that "tired women who just want a break after making holidays magical for 25 years" are the power behind the magic. When the kids were growing up, I always decorated for birthdays and had celebrations with their friends and our family included. So many Christmas Eve nights staying up to make sure Santa got things just right and ate his snack of fudge that we had made. It was definitely all on me, as I grew up with birthdays receiving their proper notice and holidays laden with food traditions and decorations. My husband grew up with not much fanfare on special occasions. Now that our children are in their 30s, one almost 40, my husband and I are sparse celebrators. I do decorate for Halloween and Christmas, with a small bit for Valentine's Day, but the celebrating we do now is to attend birthday dinners for the grands. And, I wonder if people will find their way back to big celebrations after the quiet and calm of the Covid isolations. I do hope we do.

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  22. I enjoyed the decorating and celebrating as a child. With my children we each had our own Gingerbread house-me included at Christmas. A lot of that was to make sure that I did not micromanage the children. The children and I would go to teas. My son could eat 4-5 scones alone. I learned how to make them at home. We had the sleep over birthday parties and laser tag birthday parties too. I am embarassed to say that over the years my working one job and then two jobs I kind of stopped the holiday dinners OR if I did cook, we might have dessert first. I liked to make pecan pie for the holidays and my teenagers enjoyed that. As my son marries, it will be interesting to see what traditions his wife and him decide upon.

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  23. A lot of you are saying the same thing: When our kids were young, we did it, perhaps because our parents did it for us. But families fracture, the next generation are glued to their cell phones instead of to our traditions, and we're all busy, and did we really LIKE the mess on the kitchen counter from all that egg dye or slimy pumpkin innards? My family was a bit thin on tradition and I tried heroically to create it. But what's left is all-family Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, not even dinners some years since there are multiple split and re-combined families.

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