Traditions Make Me Happy!

I realized this past weekend, how addicted I am to keeping my traditions. Halloween just came and went, but I wouldn’t let it go before I at least practiced a few of my favorite traditions. I get really depressed if I can’t practice my traditions for every holiday and season.

I made sure to visit a haunted house with friends. I insisted that my fiance and I go pumpkin picking at Kruger’s Farm, even though it is a new tradition for us. I rarely went Pumpkin picking as a kid, but have gone every year since I moved to Portland. We went there on our 2nd date and back again this year. In fact, we tried to recreate our whole 2nd date on our anniversary, and I may turn that into a tradition too. I dressed up, went to parties, made pumpkin seeds, watched Hocus Pocus, and tried to soak up all the Halloween things I could before it ended. It just doesn’t feel like the holiday for me, if I don’t get to do all of the things I love.

For Christmas, I have to watch Love Actually every year or it didn’t happen. I have to hang all the ornaments my mother bought me over the years on the tree. We need to visit Christmas village in Philadelphia and go see at least one Christmas Light display to make it worth it. I can’t have Christmas without all my favorite movies: Home Alone 1 and 2, Rudolph, The Grinch, National Lampoon Christmas Vacation, Scrooged etc. We must open one gift the night before Christmas and start with our stockings first on Christmas morning. If these don’t happen, it feels like a wasted holiday. The years I’ve been away from home for Christmas were very hard for me.

Every winter, I need to go skiing and snow shoeing. Every spring, I must visit the tulip festival in Wooden Shoe, Oregon. Every summer, if I’m at home I must go to Dorney Park, the jersey shore, and tubing down the Delaware River. I must eat tons of Rita’s water ice and walk on the boardwalk. I need to visit New Hope with my mom and go shopping. If I’m in Portland, I need to go swimming at the lakes, rivers, and waterholes. I need to go hiking. I want to tube down the river. I want to visit the Rose Gardens. It just isn’t winter, spring, or summer without a few of my favorite things.

So, why am I so addicted to my traditions? I couldn’t tell you exactly, but my parents were always big on doing the same things each year. I got so used to repeating these routines with each season and holiday, that I got attached to them. They make me nostalgic for the past. I want to keep recreating my childhood, because luckily it was very magical. Now that I’ve moved far from home, I’m even more attached to keeping traditions when I visit home. I miss those fun activities and want to keep doing them year after year.

I’ve also started creating new traditions in Portland. It makes me feel more like this is home. I’m happy to start new ones with my partner, so that we have traditions to pass on to our kids and to enjoy ourselves. Traditions create a warm, happy feeling for me and I’m not willing to give them up.

My mom would always try to retire certain traditions when we got too old for them. She stopped hiding Easter Eggs for us, when I turned 10, but sadly that left my 6 year old sister without the tradition as well. I understand abandoning certain traditions when kids are too old for them, but children look forward to them each year, so don’t get rid of them too early.

Despite not practicing a religion, my parents made sure to celebrate all the holidays affiliated with their upbringing. My mom was raised Christian, so we celebrated Christmas and Easter, but we didn’t go to church. We created our own traditions. We baked holiday cookies from the Joy of Cooking cook book with my mom. We went ice skating a the water front as a family.

My dad was raised Jewish, which is a religion based on traditions. We celebrated all of the High Holidays with my Jewish side of the family. I loved the traditions related to these holidays. We ate certain foods for each holiday and got together with our family. The best part for me was being with the whole family. I believe this is one of the main reasons I love these traditions so much, is that I got to spend time with my family. These traditions brought us together.

When I moved across the country, it was really hard for me each year when I had no one to celebrate the Jewish holidays with. I oftentimes had to skip the holiday altogether and felt depressed. I now have people to celebrate with, but it is still not the same without my family. A lot of people dread going home for the holidays, but I couldn’t live without a visit home each holiday season and summer if I can swing it. I am lucky enough to have a very loving and supportive family. I consider my parents my best friends and am very close with my sister and all my extended family.

I think that I hold on to traditions so tightly, because they remind me of home and the happiness of growing up there. Traditions make me feel like I accurately celebrated the holiday or enjoyed the season. They create that warm and fuzzy feeling. I hope to create this feeling for my future kids. I want them to enjoy the some of the traditions I did, and to create new traditions as a family with them. I think they make children feel safe knowing they can count on their favorite things happening each year.

There is a difference between being traditional and practicing traditions. Being traditional denotes following old practices and not being progressive. Traditional people may hold on to the outdated roles of a husband and his wife. They may feel that a man should work and woman should stay in the kitchen. Traditional people are not always open minded to change in society. I’m not traditional, but I love traditions. I am not traditional in this sense. I love fun made up traditions that make me reminisce my childhood. I believe traditions like these are healthy for all families and create a solid foundation for children.

What traditions does your family have? What traditions can you not live without?

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