Our Cherished Traditions and How We choose to Pass Them On.

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♫♫Christmas, Christmas everybody sing…. ♫♫ Oh, it is that time of the year again, yay! Yes I am one of those people who truly enjoy the heck out of the Christmas season. Family, food, festivities, and fun…what’s not to like? I start playing my Christmas music as soon as the Halloween craze wraps up. I grew up in a Christian home so Christmas was always a day that we celebrated. The days leading up to Christmas we would get “new” Christmas clothes and “very beautiful” shoes, but if those clothes arrived any earlier than December 25th, we were NOT to wear them. My sister and I are one year apart, and if you know anything about the African matching culture, you know we would always be matched head to toe so much that some people would confuse us for twins. The same goes to my two brothers (my youngest brother had not been born yet), all dressed up in new tailored outfit and to complete the package, my mother in the African kitenge of the same color (kitenge is an African fabric similar to sarong). You could easily pinpoint who belongs to what family in any crowd, household matching was a big deal back then.

On Christmas day, I would wake up to the same Christmas music, the lyrics are still stuck in my head, “Noheli Nziza Banyarwanda Muzagire Mwese Bonane” translating to “have a great Christmas Rwandans may you all have a good new year ahead”. Christmas day is when the kids will be allowed to eat breakfast at the big table, and lo and behold, we were allowed to drink tea instead of oatmeal for breakfast, which I gladly enjoyed as I wasn’t a fan of the normal cereal, oatmeal or porridge breakfast growing up. The day will be followed by a trip to the local cathedral to attend the Christmas mass. All excited to show off our new outfits, families would enter one by one and proudly match the long hallway to their pews. To some Christmas was the only day that they attended mass, all the seats would be filled that day. The mothers will be giving their children those famous mom signs to act right, fold your hands in front of your chest my mom would whisper, and we would stand like little angels our hands prayerfully folded the same way like the statue of Mary hanging at the alter behind the priest. Come to think about it now that was a very clever way to keep young children from being their wild selves in church. The mass ended always in time for lunch but the parents chatting afterwards seemed like eternity to me. Back home the food would be ready, a very delicious Christmas meal included grilled beef, some rice and tomato sauce, a cabbage and carrot salad and the endless plates of French fries which I would stuff my face with, without my mom knowing. Santa Clause was known but it wasn’t a very celebrated tradition back then, the presents we got were mostly candies and the occasional chocolate and we knew nothing about making lists of what we wanted for Christmas, naughty or nice was an unknown concept.

Fast forward to now, many years have passed, traditions and cultures have morphed a little more and my new home now has even more rich Christmas traditions that I hold dear. My husband, an American with German-Italian-Irish-Hungarian-Welsh-possibly Spaniard heritage (a melting pot, if you would) being of a different culture, his Christmas went a little differently than mine. His cherished memories revolves around Christmas gift unwrapping, every christmas morning he and his sister would wake up very early  to unwrap the gifts that they had previously listed on their Christmas gift list, thus tradition entails knowing what you want and waking up expecting just that. His family time on Christmas is on Christmas Eve where his mom would make them a big feast and family and friends would celebrate. On Christmas his father would take him to his house where the process of gift exchanging would repeat. He knew all about Santa and he believed in him as a small child. He still holds great memories from those Christmas traditions.

The two of us obviously ended up together and now we have a child to whom we are looking forward to passing on the best of both our cherished traditions. Part of being a parent involves purposefully and mindfully choosing what traditions you want to pass on to the next generation and which ones to leave behind, it is all part of parents responsibility to help creating a better world for our children.

We thought hard and long about the Santa issue and we decided we will tell her the truth about him when she is of age to understand. We will also tell her the story that gave birth to that tradition, the spirit of giving that he represents, the joy of giving and receiving and the lessons about how good deeds are to be striven for. We will combine both our traditions that encourage family togetherness. We will incorporate both the American Christmas eve feast and the African special Christmas lunch traditions, with occasional Christmas matching outfits (this part is still up for debate). We will pick the best of both worlds and hope to transfer to our child the best of the memories of those traditions that we both reminisce upon with gratitude.

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23 thoughts on “Our Cherished Traditions and How We choose to Pass Them On.”

  1. My family is very small. It’s just me, my husband and our toddler and I am already trying to create traditions for us. It think this can bring a family close together and it will something that it will be passed through generations. Family traditions are very important!

  2. It’s wonderful to form your own family traditions. We have taken some from my family as well as my husbands and then created some new ones altogether!

  3. Unity in marriage is such a beautiful thing. Creating family traditions together that celebrate both of your cultures is so awesome.

  4. Such a well written post and your family is beautiful! I am recently married (this is our first Christmas together) and we are definitely dealing with the same. Need to compromise on each of our family traditions and decide whats best for our little one on the way!

    1. awww congratulations on everything, starting a family requires a lot of compromise and mindful decision and teamwork… I am sure you will do great. thanks for stopping by and happy holidays to you and yours.

  5. I can just picture your family with your hands folded at mass. So beautiful! I love that you and your husband have memories and traditions to blend together! My favorite part is seeing Christmas through the eyes of children, you describe it very well.

    In my home this year, my sister’s baby is coming any day now! We almost forgot to get a tree but I helped decorate one for my family yesterday. We cannot wait to share our traditions with our new little girl!

    Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!

  6. Yes this is so sweet! I love traditions. This is my first Christmas being married so there have been a lot of adjustments and creating new traditions while reusing traditions from our families. It’s so much fun to talk about them picture passing them on someday.

  7. Great post! We shared a lot of traditions my husband and I so it wasn’t too difficult but with our kiddos we are trying to make more memories and traditions of our own! It’s so very important!

  8. What a great post on family traditions! It’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, great reminder to be mindful about choosing your own!

  9. This is such a sweet post! My husband and I celebrated in a fairly similar way to each other, so it’s not quite a big adjustment, but we’re currently figuring out what traditions we want to create from scratch and pass on to our little one. Happy holidays!

  10. Praying you will also teach your faith to Miss Zelda & suspend all earthly activities & traditions
    for time to focus on the heavenly reason for the season, our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.

  11. This is something that I really needed to read today. I’m struggling with the idea of leaving a tradition behind but it’s becoming “toxic” and I don’t think I want my kinds to be subject to that toxicity just because it’s a tradition. Thanks for writing what I needed to hear.

    1. Thanks for stopping Carley, I hope you find a way to protect your little ones from unnecessary stress. I am sure you know what is best for them and you are doing the right thing. thanks for stopping by.

  12. I love how you’re incorporating your family traditions with culture. Sometime we do things without intentionality and traditions get taken for granted. Me and my sister never got to match. We were a little to far apart.

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