Sunday, August 05, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Tea - The Importance of Tradition

“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 are Associate links.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing these things . My grown girls , still at home , just said to me they miss the fact that I used to decorate for every holiday and season ...I had thought it wouldn't matter so much to them now that they are both just out of their teens. I especially love decorating for Autumn , so I will begin again this year , I loved the tradition too , I guess somehow I thought I was only doing it for my young children . Karen

txcatlover said...

Darling daughter and I went out for donuts her first day of preschool. Little did I realize it would become a treasured tradition. We have been out for donuts every "first day" since --- through high school, college and beyond. She is now a teacher herself and we still meet for donuts the first day of school. I'm the one who is most blessed.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Traditions are so important as memory markers in our lives! We do start school in August but since we homeschool, we can go swimming still if we want!

Peggy said...

I got hold of a copy of What is a Family? not long ago...very good book.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

I love traditions and our family had/has many. Perhaps the one which meant most to us was having a family tea with Christmas carol singing every Sunday in Advent. My very grown up kids (the "baby" is 36 now) remember this with happiness and we have family songbooks and still do this as much as we can. I was always a stay at home Mom so it was easier for me. A tradition I never have done because I wasn't aware of it soon enough is one of having muffins for breakfast on the first day of school. This is from the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I'm on a discussion list for these books and many of our members do make muffins for their children on the first day of school. Everyone makes different muffins and some years they talk about which ones they are making. My grandmother lived on a street that many school children walked past (and we walked home for lunch and back after lunch as well as walking in the morning and at school's end) and she loved to put up some decorations on her front door and window for all the holidays - even Valentine's day and St. Patrick's Day.....I was so blessed with traditions and I think they are very important!

Vee said...

Traditions are very important and I am afraid that I have fallen down on the job. I will ask the family to see if they think we actually have any. Loved reading Kristi’s comment. Tea for every Sunday in Advent with singing of Christmas carols sounds so charming and meaningful. said...

I have the "Let's Make a Memory" book also. There are also books now about long distance grandparenting that I'm using for my grandsons who live in Florida; trying to stay connected with them. They start school this week! But then they do get an extra week off in October for fall break, sometimes we're able to visit them at that time, or they come north, which is great for the weather transition, since we're all from Ohio. Memories/traditions made. In fact one tradition we sent to them was apple cider in the fall (yes, they can buy it in FL, but just knowing it came from the midwest was special for them!)