I find each year that the younger generation seems to care less about our family traditions. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I have talked with a few friends and they also say that their family traditions seem to be going by the wayside. On Thanksgiving they are interested in eating and leaving to go shopping for deals. They seem distracted by their phones and everyone sits looking at their phones instead of having a conversation. If you try to tell family stories, that is old times and old stuff and no cares about the past. They have no desire to know about their ancestors or the even my past.
I came from a small family of maybe 10 to 15 people as it varied over the years. We all got together on Christmas Eve and opened gifts. Santa would come and leave a bag of gifts on the front porch, ring the bell, and disappear. My brother and I were the only kids in the family so Christmas Eve was at our house. Christmas Day everyone gathered at my grandparent’s house for dinner. The women would all contribute to the cooking, but my grandmother did the turkey and goose. My grandfather had to have goose. She had a stove in the basement as well as her kitchen. She would run up and down the stairs while cooking both. My grandmother had a big heavy swinging door between the kitchen and dining room which usually remained open, but on holidays when she cooked, she closed it to keep the heat in the kitchen and the house cool. The kitchen was so hot the women would sweat. My job was to set the table and put the olives out. They were lucky that there were olives left as I ate some while putting them out. After dinner the men retired to the living room to watch TV and usually fell asleep, while the women cleaned up and did the dishes. After dishes were done, the adults played cards while my brother and I played with our new toys. I always enjoyed the conversations that went on and that is where I heard a lot of family stories. After the card playing, we would have our dessert and then everyone would depart for home. Thanksgiving was at my grandmothers and was pretty much like Christmas Day. New Years Eve my parents often had parties and it would be mostly their friends and their kids, plus my grandparents and uncle. New Years Day was again at my grandmothers for another big meal. Easter I would find an Easter Basket on the dining room table and then I would hunt for eggs. Then we would get ready for church. Back then everyone dressed up so I always had a new dress, hat, gloves, and new shoes. After Church we would go to my grandmothers and I would hunt for eggs again, but this time outside. My Aunt and cousin would always bring us another Easter Basket. There would be another big dinner at grandmas.
After my grandmother got too old to do all that cooking, my mother started hosting the family dinners. Grandma would still bring a dish to dinner, and she would still help clean up. We still played cards or a board game after our dinners. By this time, my brother and I were old enough to play games with the rest of the family. After I married, I wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner at our house and so I started hosting Thanksgiving dinners, and my mother did Christmas. When the children came along, I also started hosting Christmas Eve so Santa could come deliver the gifts to our house. New Years Day and Easter were at my mom’s. But other than the place we celebrated, everything else remained the same except for a few years when my kids were in a Christmas Eve presentation at church. We would go to church first before opening gifts and Santa coming. There were also a few years where we went to candlelight services at midnight.
When my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles were all gone. I still tried to carry on our family traditions. There were years that it was only my husband, two kids, my brother, and I that were left. It was up to me to do every holiday meal and plan the activities. I always tried to find a new game every year to keep our game playing interesting. When my kids grew up the family expanded once again. Son number 2 married and eventually had three kids. They would celebrate every other Thanksgiving with us and Christmas Day with us. My brother had a girl friend he lived with for many years but never married. Once again, we had 10 people for our holiday celebrations
At the present time it is hard to keep those traditions going because once again the family has gotten smaller. Son number one never married and had kids. Son number 2 got divorced and his kids are grown up now and they go their own way on holidays. My brother passed away 6 years ago, and my husband two years ago. I still cook for my two sons and we still play games on holidays. I cook the same way my grandmother cooked and the same things. But our holidays just are not the same. They are as good as can be, but I miss those days with everyone. I know when I am gone this family’s traditions will be gone with me.
If they ever decide they are interested in family stories, they are all written down. Some on this blog and all of them on paper in a book.