Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Photo by ToZZ
By Annette Crank

I believe in traditions. Family traditions, holiday traditions, time honored school traditions, cultural traditions and personal traditions.  I cherish time spent with family carrying out our own special acts that are our own traditions.  As graduation nears for my daughter, Casey, I am extremely proud and can’t wait to place the thin silver chain around her neck that holds the floating opal, passed down by my grandmother.  All the girls on my father’s side of the family have worn this necklace for our graduations.  It symbolizes each of our accomplishments and creates a special bond, kind of like a secret club, between those of us who have earned the honor to wear it. As I prepare to help my daughter slip on that long, royal blue robe and pin the hat carefully to her head, I will place that thin silver chain around her neck and beam with pride as she begins the next chapter in her life.  I believe traditions build special family bonds, help shape our future and passes on the legacy of our ancestors to the next generation. 

Photo by Saut Eman
Traditions have helped me keep the past alive.  Each year, I mark the beginning of the Christmas holidays with a family ritual of baking cookies.  I can remember how excited I would get when my mother would bring out the aqua blue mixer, which she has owned my whole life, because I knew today was the day I got to bake cookies.  Together we would crack eggs, measure ingredients and mix it all together to make the cookie dough.  Sometimes my mother would ask me to dig through the recipe box hunting for handwritten recipes passed down by both of my grandmothers, which were passed down to them from my great grandmothers. Although I never knew my great grandmothers, somehow reading the recipes and seeing their handwriting on the cards, and listening to my mother tell stories about them would conjure up images of the women they were or might have been. A little part of me wanted to be like each of them. 

As we mixed and stirred the batters, my mother would reminisce on how her grandmother and mother would bake certain recipes, which were their favorites or the favorite of someone in the family.  Now that I am grown and have my own family, those handwritten recipes have come to live in my recipe box.  Cookie baking day still marks the beginning of the holiday season, not only for me and my mother, but for my daughter as well. I enjoy sharing the ritual of baking cookies and telling her my stories.  The three of us tie on silly aprons, crank up the Christmas carols and bake like crazy, while we dance, sing, and share childhood memories of the women who have shaped our lives.  My daughter learns about the grandmothers she will never know just as I did, and shares in the traditions to keep their memories alive.   I can see in Mom’s eyes she is proud of the mother I have become.  When I look at my daughter laughing and dancing with Grammy, I realize how my mother taught me to navigate through the stages of life.  I learned the importance of sharing family history and what makes us special.  I learned how to appreciate what those before us cherished, the love and care that went into baking cookies.

Traditions are usually associated with milestones, family events, and holidays. I believe family traditions have helped shape me into the person I am today.  While transitioning from a teen to a young wife, I relied on family traditions to help me begin the next chapter in my life.  I was able to demonstrate my morals and values by sharing my family traditions, which provided me the basic structure I would use to build a solid foundation on how to live my life.  Anyone can say I love you a thousand times, but the simple gestures of carrying out a family tradition can speak volumes without ever saying a word.  Traditions have taught me to set goals and achieve them, celebrate the birth of a child, and mourn the loss of a parent.  Traditions have taught me the importance of knowing who my ancestors were, and how their lives have affected me and the choices I‘ve made.  So, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and, yes, I do believe in traditions.


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