Creating traditions

By Published On: November 29th, 2013

I had a conversation with my sister-in-law about kids recently. […]

I had a conversation with my sister-in-law about kids recently. Just sort of a general, quasi-philosophical what-does-it-all-mean kind of thing. She and my brother don’t have, but want kids. But the question on this particular night was why? And are they sure they really want them?


She made some compelling arguments. They like their life now. They can do whatever they want. They can sleep in, go out whenever they please. They can spend so much time together and can really devote their full attentions toward one another. They can take day trips and go to the movies. Or they can just stay home and do nothing at all. What was my argument?
Um, biology? One of those things you say and immediately regret, but it’s already out there, so then you have to try and defend it. It went something like we are programmed, like any other species, to ensure the survival of the species. Ergo, we should all have kids.
It wasn’t very articulate, obviously. Nor well thought-out or compelling in any way, shape or form. She was (rightfully) not convinced.
Um…they’re cute? They provide a lot of joy? No, they do. It’s joy, mixed in with a lot of diapers and insomnia and constantly being “on,” and never having the house to yourself and watching your stuff become their stuff (which is to say broken) and…wait a minute. I was doing it again. Man, this question is HARD.
How DO you answer that? I don’t think “because if you don’t, you might regret it someday” is a very good answer, either. But having had a little more time to think about it, I can at least articulate one reason. And that is creating traditions.
Thanksgiving as a kid always meant the same thing to me: packing in the mini-van and driving four hours to my grandparents’ house. My grandfather watching the stocks while “resting his eyes.” Checking the current status of the old candy drawer. Cocktail hour with Shirley Temples with a half-dozen maraschino cherries. Football on in the front room. Those mashed potatoes! Cool Whip-smothered pumpkin pie. My grandmother refusing clean-up help. Then when she finished, a colorful game of Uno at the card table.
That’s it. That’s what we called Thanksgiving. Year after year. Simple, predictable. Boring, even. They are some of my fondest childhood memories.
As a parent, you have no idea what your kids’ favorite memories will be. But you do have the power to create traditions. My grandparents passed several years ago, and there were at least a couple years in there where we felt lost, lacking. Looking for something that by definition could no longer exist. Trying to recreate and imitate in our own ways.