Friday, October 28, 2011

(Foodie) Life Lessons Learned from Mom - Part 5

If you've been landing at and then exploring my series of (Foodie) Life Lessons Learned from Mom here on The Food Adventuress, thanks!  Here's the fifth (and final) obsession installment:

I've mentioned the life lessons of no special treatment, preparation, reading the instructions and proceeding slowly, seeking inspiration and embellishing.  Finally, life lesson five: honor tradition.

Honestly, my family is fairly certain they've bred a monster in me.  Straying in the slightest from years of tradition makes me nearly break out in hives.  It's not that I'm an inflexible human being, I swear!  (Sort of.)  It's just that in the same way that consistency and the comfort of our routines gives me a compass by which to navigate life, tradition helps me understand where I've been and where I'm going.  In fact, I now understand that this same predictability is a very small gift I offer my own family and specifically my children, but that it will be years before they can thoroughly unwrap it.
Here's the food-focused version:

Fall means pumpkin soup.  (Granted, my family abhorred it, and we no longer speak of it.  But I can taste it, and I still love it.)

Easter means hot cross buns.

Christmas Eve means fondue, inexplicably, and Christmas day means German stollen and prime rib.

May calls me to sneak around with my daughter leaving May Day surprises, June summons me to celebrate summer and July sends a signal for both Independence Day and Bastille Day.  In August, I pack my family up for a Perseid Picnic.  In September, I'm prone to a back to school celebration and in October, I notice the harvest moon.  In November, we gather those we love and those who may not have a place to feel warmth and camaraderie, and we give thanks for things mentioned and many more things unmentioned.

Long ago, people were drawn more strongly to the seasons and their related meanings.  Whether I'm reading the Little House on the Prairie series or jotting the latest seasonal attributes on our kitchen chalkboard, I've learned that the seasons and traditions matter.  At best, they offer us the sentiment that life and intentional living matter, and at least, they remind us that predictability feels good. 

I'm wrapping up a month of thinking about my Mom and the way she influenced and influences my life in countless ways.  We're approaching the holiday season, when we can allow ourselves to be drawn to what matters or to be overwhelmed by a sense of obligation.  I would challenge you just as I challenge myself to stop, slow down, honor the past and move with an eye to the future.  

This year, belatedly, our family grabbed a simple mason jar on top of the fridge and started pitching little cut up index cards in it with our favorite sayings and memories of the year.  We'll read them all together on New Year's Even as we thrash into another year together.  We started this little habit mid-August.  I could have skipped mentioning it because I thought my family might make fun of my corniness, or that it was so late in the year that we shouldn't even bother.

Instead, my gamble was rewarded by their enthusiasm.  Now, when things we know in the moment to be meaningful threaten to pass by, my daughter or my husband mentions that we ought to throw it in the jar.  And this year, when I embrace my own full corniness and serve up our Thanksgiving stuffing in a carved-out pumpkin, I'll be prepared to endure the smart remarks and the (passing) jokes.  I'll know that just like the Christmas Eve fondue, the attempted new traditions may or may not endure, but what will remain will be the memories and an assurance in our family that we care enough to risk a joke or two for the sake of tradition.

And that is enough.

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