Hank wailed it when he gave us ‘Family Tradition’. Although his was a slightly less reverent approach, but incredibly two-steppable at the Waterhole, most of us have our own beautiful family traditions.

Especially here in the south where we spend one chaffing hot summer Sunday afternoon roaming about the local graveyards and decorating the graves of friends and relatives with plastic flowers in commemoration of ‘Decoration Day’. In my little country home church, that tradition always had a dinner on the ground where people came from all around, bringing woven picnic baskets full of homemade fried chicken, pimento and cheese sandwiches and gallon glass jugs filled with sweet tea and sealed with white twist off lids. Later we got all citified fancy and had plastic pitchers with lids.

A friend of mine recently told me about having a scavenger Easter egg hunt at her home every Easter. At her home, this is also for her adult kids as well as the grandchildren. It’s something they look forward to each year. And, as expected, some have to be hidden and re-hidden with the grandkids. And she’ll continue that tradition as long as she can, she says.

I have a longtime pal whose family seems to come from all around for a pumpkin carving when he lived in Houston. As his family has grown, so have the pumpkins and the elaborate cuttings they each do.

My buddies and I have traded the Waterhole tradition for coffee and breakfast now. And I love that part of my life. And I don’t smell like Marlboro 100s and stale beer. Despite my mother’s warnings of my going to hell for being there, those nights of being young and all together laughing, sweating and dancing all night will be forever etched in our aging minds.

In our home, our family has a couple of family traditions. One is that every Halloween we watch, at least part of, The Ghost And Mr. Chicken. Why? I’m not exactly sure. I just know that I saw that first from the back seat of mom and dad’s blue Chevy at the Laco Drive Inn when I was 4 or 5. Those haunting sounds of the organ kept me up for several nights afterwards. And still today I laugh at ‘atta boy Luther!’ and ‘They used Bon Ami!’. *spoiler* Then something deep and silent inside of me recants a childhood fear and twerks just a little when the white organ in the wedding starts playing, by itself,  the same spooky tune that we heard when Mr. Simmons was thought to have killed Mrs. Simmons.

The other family tradition is our sweater family Christmas pix of the kids where we put them in the same sweaters at the same place every Christmas and make their pictures. The sweaters are stored with the rest of the Christmas decorations. The kids have grown into fine adults and filled those same sweaters out since we started this in 1996. They were ok with it as kids, then grew a little resentful as teens, but now they embrace this tradition and as our family has grown we just get more sweaters. Once married into the family…they are obliged to be in the Christmas sweater pictures. It’s just part of our package and our own unique family tradition.  

Traditions are actually important and serve a quiet purpose; they weave us together. They create the fabric to which we bind ourselves to our family and friends.

With our dad having passed years ago and our mom now in assisted living, my three siblings and I have had to say goodbye to many cherished family traditions that we grew up with. And that is difficult on several levels.

But at the same time, we’ve welcomed new family traditions among ourselves and our own families that are cherished and special in our hearts.

So, whether it’s Waterholing, coffeeing, pumpkinning, sweaterring, egging or just simply being with each other, family traditions have and always will be an integral part of keeping the ties that bind;

the ties that bind us together with love.

Even if it’s something as simple as making sure that you kiss your wife every single night (if you’re both still awake) before going to sleep.

That’s the best that I can tell about it,