We are, proudly and strangely, a non-traditional family. But we still have our traditions, especially when it comes to the end-of-year festivities
My daughter and I laugh often about our non-traditional family. I’ve always promised to give her an interesting life, but we didn’t bet on it being this interesting. As I started writing this column, I asked her what she thinks of as our traditions.
“I forget what’s normal,” she said. I can’t blame her, considering how life has shaped us into this swirl of extended family that looks much like a sitcom.
I come from a family that ran on tradition, albeit in non-traditional ways. There was dinner at the table, and Sunday breakfasts. There were festive feasts every year, that saw my mother cooking for days, and swearing off ever doing it again, only to haul out the pots once again, every year.
There were breyani parties when something big happened. There was the New Year’s Eve siren my dad would blast, as the clock struck midnight. Those celebratory moments are part of the fabric of my childhood, and I am lucky to have them.
There are deep traditions embedded in our non-traditional family too. There’s dessert before dinner, on the days when the world hasn’t been kind to us. There’s the compulsory mental health days, shoved into the school timetable, because children need these too.
There’s a funny vernacular that’s embedded into our lives. She can say “mayonnaise”, and I know what to do next. These tokens of tradition have been forces in our life, but as our family has expanded and changed, so too have our non-traditional traditions.
Our Christmas decorations, for example. Once upon a time, when she was very little, we strung bells through the burglar bars on the kitchen window. It was just her and I that Christmas, and I forgot to remove them after the festivities.
They’ve moved from home to home, and I only know we’re really home when the Christmas bells are strung up on the kitchen window.
We’ve accidentally created a new Christmas tradition too, as I look around the house. When packing away the festive decorations in January this year, we laughed and said: “ah, let’s leave the tinsel up.”
So the silly Christmas tinsel is still adorning our staircase and curtain rail. Let’s see if we can make it to November 2020 without removing the tinsel.
Another of our non-traditional traditions is that we celebrate the big wins and the tiny victories in equal measure. Made it through your exams? Well done, let’s get ice-cream. Survived the worst Monday of all time? Excellent, let’s scoff our way through a buffet.
Bitten off more than you can chew and now you need to remind yourself why we bother with this life? Great. We’re going to sloth in front of the couch for 48 hours and binge watch Big Bang Theory. Don’t move, I’ll get the popcorn.
We’re a weird mix of a blended family, so traditional traditions don’t fit. As our family has expanded and shifted, reshaped and wiggled about the world, we’ve picked up funny traditions that have begun to stick. Taco Friday is one that’s settling in, as is the Saturday Ice Cream Truck Run.
Life lets us make our own non-traditional traditions. In celebrating them, we’re open to making new ones. That’s the greatest thing about traditions. You can change them when they don’t fit your life anymore. You can add to them when you want to, and you can enjoy them every time you need a reminder of your roots.
We hope you’ll be celebrating your way
during the holidays, with fantastic reminders of the wonder of family.