Growing up we had family traditions. Every Sunday my Dad and my brother, sister and I would ride our bikes to the Pancake House while we let my Mom sleep. We used to go to Dressel’s Dairy for ice cream cones to celebrate special occasions. We lit Chanukah candles and played dreidel. We had family get togethers that always included bagels and lox.
When I had my own kids, it was important to me to establish some of my own family traditions. Whenever there was a birthday to celebrate, we had birthday pancakes, which was a stack of pancakes with a candle in it.
We always tried to have sit down dinners together, except for one night a week. Then we would all bring our dinner in front of the TV to watch the Cosby Show, (of course this was way before we knew what we know now about Cosby). We also lit Chanukah candles, celebrated Passover and carved pumpkins for Halloween. Every night when we would say “good night” we always added “sweet dreams.”
Traditions create a sense of belonging … to the family, to the group. They create the glue that bonds us together. Our family traditions may be similar and different from other family’s traditions, and they create memories that we relive when we talk about events from the past. It is gratifying to watch my children continue some of the traditions we had, and they had created some new traditions for their families.
Tevya, from Fiddler on the Roof sang…
“Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years.
Here in Anatevka we have traditions for everything…
how to eat, how to sleep, even, how to wear clothes.
For instance, we always keep our heads covered and always wear a little prayer shawl…
This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition start?
I’ll tell you – I don’t know. But it’s a tradition…
Because of our traditions, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”
Covid has made it more difficult to keep our family traditions going, but not impossible. Traditions bond families and friends. They help us keep our balance.
What are some of the traditions that have been the glue for your family? What are your birthday pancakes?