“There is something about saying, ‘We always do this,’ which helps keep the years together. Time is such an elusive thing that if we keep on meaning to do something interesting, but never do it, year would follow year with no special thoughtfulness being expressed in making gifts, surprises, charming table settings, and familiar food. Tradition is a good gift intended to guard the best gifts.” ---Edith Schaeffer, What Is a Family?
Schools in our area are beginning a new year over the next couple of weeks. I still cannot fathom the return to the classroom in August but that is the new way of doing things and has been for awhile.When we were homeschooling, I clung to the old ways when it came to scheduling and began our new year in September. Because I could...
At the risk of once again talking about the good old days (for they were not always good except in our memory), I do think beginning school after Labor Day had a natural rhythm to it that sitting in a classroom when one should be at the lake does not. I suppose mine was the last generation to adhere closely to the agricultural seasons.
Whatever time of the year it starts, the return to school was the true beginning of the new year in my youth. It was in September when new clothes were purchased, our notebooks were clean of pencil marks and eraser crumbs, and there was hope that perhaps this was the year I would understand math.
While I usually write about tradition during the Holidays, the return to school was one of those seasons when traditions were also important. One of our traditions when my kids were home was going out to breakfast on the first day of school each year. I'm pretty sure we were able to do so every year. First with just Stephanie, then with both Christopher and Stephanie for awhile, then it was just Mom and son.
When your daughter's first day of college* is the same day your son starts Kindergarten... it does make for juggling traditions a little more interesting. There were some years we simply went to McDonald's but when there was time... and that usually meant getting up even earlier than I would like... we made our way to a favorite restaurant.
The beginning of another school year, much like Thanksgiving and Christmas, is prime time for traditions. Quite often the genesis of our traditions came from our own childhood. Sometimes the ideas for new traditions began from somewhere in my reading. The first day of school breakfast came out of the book, Let's Make a Memory by Shirley Dobson and Gloria Gaither.
If you have read this blog more than five minutes, you will know the profound influence Edith Schaeffer's writing had on my life. I appreciated tradition before reading her books but Edith's writing helped me to understand the need for tradition in one's life.
The quote under the image is one of my favorite "Edith quotes". Two of her books I made a tradition of reading at least once a year for a long time were What Is a Family and Hidden Art (The Hidden Art of Homemaking in paperback).
One of the truths that quote teaches me is that quite often, most traditions are best kept simple. For instance, while I would love to have made a gingerbread house every Christmas, I spent too many years working outside the home to even contemplate that tradition.
Although now that you can purchase pre-made gingerbread houses that are small and cute and just need decorating, it may be a tradition I began just for my own enjoyment. But I digress... What I could do was make Christmas cookies and many of those recipes are still baked each year to give as gifts.
Another tradition that began due to a busy Holiday schedule was serving hors d'oeuvres on Christmas Eve. I usually made a dessert the day before and served the family various "finger foods" as dinner on Christmas Eve. It was always fun to use my creativity in planning the menu and I made certain everything was easy to make because I could get carried away and that would defeat the purpose of the tradition.
Some traditions are "set in stone" when possible but since life can change, they have had to change due to circumstances. During the years we attended a Christmas Eve service, it was far easier to just go out for dinner than try to cook anything.
New traditions continue to be started, long after there are no children at home. Using my collection of brown transferware in the Fall months and especially at Thanksgiving is one of them. While I decorate with the transferware all year, actually using it provides a way to enjoy it for a season.
It is fun for me when I hear of traditions my kids took with them to their own families. Of course, they rarely are exactly the way they were followed growing up because circumstances are different, family dynamics have changed, and they are creative enough to tweak traditions to be even better for their families.
When I first read What Is a Family?, I was a young mom just beginning to make memories for my family. Now I can look back upon decades and agree with Edith that "time is such an allusive thing". One doesn't realize just how fast time goes until one day you look in the mirror and see your mother staring back at you.
So now is the time to brush off old traditions, begin a new one, or think ahead to the Holidays. They will be here before you know it. If you have begun hyperventilating, sorry about that. Make it simple and you will be fine.
Mentioned in this Blog Post
What Is a Family?... here.
The Hidden Art of Homemaking... here.
Let's Make a Memory (revised edition, third party)... here.
*It helped that the University and the school my son attended before we began homeschooling were in the same town.
Disclaimer: Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.