Traditions: A Family Thing
Traditions are wonderful experiences that we honor or develop with our loved ones. They can be small or large, fancy or humble. No matter what they consist of they are embedded in each of us and they ground us in a way. They tie us to our loved ones even after they are gone from this world. Loving traditions evoke memories and feelings and that is why we love to share them.
Traditions: A Connection
My father was in the military and we traveled all over the world so traditions were an important part of our mental health. It is tough to make a small drafty and very sterile house your home, especially when you might have to quickly pack up at any moment. We never knew how much time we had on any given base or where we might be headed next until we were ready to pack. Now that doesn’t mean I hated it, in fact I did not. I loved meeting new people from all over the world and making friends that would soon be scattered across the globe just like me.
I loved reinventing myself at each new location, but I remained grounded in who I am because of the traditions my parents laid the foundation for. Christmas service at church even if it was just a small gathering in the Mess Hall, the tangerine in my stocking, nightly prayers, making cookies – they were all special. No matter where we were on New Year’s Eve we would have Sausage, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. This is not an easy feat when you are in a different country and must depend on the Commissary for your food. To this day no matter where I am I feel like it is New Year’s Eve and I am home when I make that meal.
Traditions: Old vs New
As I grew older and married a non-military man we set roots down in this beautiful community and our traditions began to change. Perhaps it was the blending of my husband’s traditions with mine or that my children did not have to move every few months. I’m not sure how or even when they started to change but they did. We still honored the traditions from our youth while developing new ones. One Christmas we made treats to celebrate them. We made pfeffernusse, it was a tradition from my mother. They are delicious spicy cookies covered in powdered sugar. My grandmother made them for my mother every year and my mother would only eat a few each month to stretch them out until the next year. It was the first time my mom had tasted the traditional recipe since before Grandma passed. I tear up now thinking that when she ate one she felt at home wrapped in the love of her mother and that is an awesome thing.
We made potato candy, it was a tradition from my father’s youth. Although it was an inexpensive treat that they still had to save up for. My father came from poor coal mining country of Pennsylvania and they had to work hard for every thing they had. No matter what though, they enjoyed the starchy sweet goodness, that was potato candy, every year. If you do not know what potato candy is and you have children, I highly recommend making a batch. It is a magical science like experiment that ends with an amazing treat.
There are recipes but you don’t need them. Take a very small potato, peel boil and then mash. Now comes the magic. Pour powdered sugar on the potato and mix, the potato disintegrates instantly. Keep adding powdered sugar until you have a dough consistency (it will take a lot so do not use a big potato) then roll out flat. Spread peanut butter on the dough, then roll it up and slice like you would for cinnamon rolls. We made the traditional batch that year but then we switched it up. We added food coloring and flavored peanut butter, some had chocolaty filling. Through it all we had fun as I told them the stories my parents had shared with me about their Christmases past.
Care To Share
The Peanut Festival is a time honored tradition for our area and it is one that is shared not only by us, but by those in other communities. People will travel a great distance to share in our community tradition and I think it is fabulous. Sharing traditions brings people together – their world with yours. Do you have a time honored family tradition or perhaps a new one created with your family? We would love to hear about them. Post in the comments below, on our facebook page or email [email protected]