Friday, December 7, 2012

Traditions are changing…

Family traditions of getting together have changed over the years as beloved relatives have grown older, their circumstances have changed or they have passed on.  Each change happened of necessity but each one left me with a feeling of loss until new traditions were formed. 

I remember when I was little there would always be a picnic at GE Park with my grandma and grandpa, uncles, aunts and cousins on Daddy’s side.  In October we would drive down to Kentucky to visit with my mom’s birth family for my grandpa’s birthday, and for Thanksgiving, we would drive north to Darke County to watch the Macy’s parade and have a wonderful meal at my great aunt and uncle’s farm.
On Christmas day we would always open our presents, go to church and head to my grandma and grandpa’s (Daddy’s side) for a meal.  It was fun, all of us in their small, cozy home.  We would all sit at tables arranged in an L from the dining room into the living room.  I can still remember Grandma’s roast duck, the red hots that were always in a jar on the floor model radio and chocolate stars in the copper candy dish on the buffet.  A few of us cousins enjoyed playing a game with the city map that my grandpa had hung on the wall at the landing of the steps in the basement.

As time passed, our summer picnics ended – I think because Grandpa retired.  My Kentucky grandpa passed so we no longer had a yearly gathering in Kentucky and our trips to Darke County ended when my great uncle, a wonderful teddy bear of a man, passed on my birthday one year and my great aunt’s health problems started soon after.
New traditions emerged even as my brothers and sister married and moved into their own homes.  Mom and Daddy took over Thanksgiving and we moved the meal to the Sunday before so that my siblings could go to their in-laws on the holiday.

The Christmas meal changed when my grandma and grandpa moved into a retirement home but as we had our own homes and children, we continued to gather at Mom and Daddy’s for sharing of presents – all from Santa except for those items Mom handmade for each of us.  Daddy was always the one to pass out the presents and did it in the most rapid fire manner that the presents were open in a short period of time.  Maybe because of all those years we needed to get to church?  J  Whatever the reason, it warms my heart to think of the fun and laughter we shared!
Traditions changed again when Daddy’s Alzheimer’s put him in the nursing home.  Mom moved out of our farm home and in with my brother’s family 26 years ago.  I took over Thanksgiving for our family of 24, holding it in our three bedroom townhouse.  Thank goodness it was nice weather because they had to fill their plates and walk out the back door to eat on the patio!

Christmas was held at my brother’s house in the basement apartment that was built for Mom and my brother took over passing out the presents in the same manner Daddy had always done. 
Other new traditions were born also.  My middle brother and his wife began hosting the family for a celebration of Mom’s birthday in April and a 4th of July pool party.

For 25 years we have gathered as a family four times a year as our number has grown from 24 to 78!
Now traditions are changing again, and again, I feel sad, but I also know it’s time.  This year we moved Mom’s birthday party to her ALF.  We didn’t have as many family members present but those of us that were able to make it enjoyed it and Mom was all smiles.

I also made the decision to let go of the Thanksgiving tradition.  Our home was truly bursting at the seams as we hosted up to 65 of our family members each year and I realized it was time to allow my siblings to begin their own family traditions. 
So this year, I invited everyone to Mom’s ALF for the Thanksgiving meal that they prepare for the families.  Not everyone could make it, of course, but we had over 20 of us there to eat with Mom.  The home made a wonderful meal!
Two very long tables were set aside for Mom's family.  I think she had more than anyone else at the home!
While I missed having everyone at my house this year, it warmed my heart to hear the fun the others looked forward to and had with their own families.  And after cooking for 60+ all these years, I nearly forgot to get the potatoes cooking for my own family!  J
The Christmas tradition continues at this point and I am very thankful that my brother still wants to host our huge family.  Unless something changes, Mom will be there amidst all those folks that are on this earth because of her.  I love her and each and every one of them and crazy as it may seem, I am thankful every day for Facebook because it gives me a way to keep up with all of them wherever they may be.