Family traditions: a love/hate relationship

Pumpkin Day

Pumpkin Day

So this weekend, hubby, The Dude and I all took part in one of my fahhhhvorite family traditions: Family Pumpkin Day! Woot woot! Every year, hubby’s family (who all rock by the way) including two sisters, his father, aunts and uncles, his grandmother, and many cousins (and all their significant others and children) gather together at hubby’s middle sister’s house to carve pumpkins. We have a huge pot luck lunch, tons of big delicious pumpkins get carved (see a few of the samples above – mine is the traced out hand), and we spend the afternoon carving, laughing, eating, and bonding.

It’s a glorious day. Yes we all come away with some of the most amazing carved pumpkins but more than that, we come away with great memories and a feeling of connection and family strength.

I love family traditions! But, I gotta be honest, I didn’t always! WHAT?!??!?! Me…not enthusiastic about something?!??!! Yes, I  know…shocking!

When my Dad was killed in a car accident when I was 16, family traditions became a stark, dank reminder of everything that was missing, everything that was torn away from me, and everything I used to have. They were like God’s cruel joke. Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Valentine’s day. My god, for a while it seemed like there wasn’t a month without a blasted holiday or tradition to painfully acknowledge.

Constant never-ending reminders, a stake through the heart as I watched hundreds of Father’s Day/Christmas commercials with perfect “gift ideas for Dad” to remind me that I no longer had one, to remind me of all the fun I’d never have with my Dad again, to remind me that I was missing a part of my world. It was awful! It was torture!

I began to hate family traditions. I became cynical and bitter and I loathed families who enjoyed them. What’s the point? You just get all settled in a tradition and something will happen to tear it away from you?!?!

Fortunately for me, the years passed by and my pain and anger eased. I healed. My mother remarried and I grew to love a new and larger family. More importantly, I came to once again fall in love with family traditions. They symbolized a renewal and I rejoiced in feeling whole again.

And when hubby and I got together, we started making entirely new family traditions. My family grew and expanded. My heart filled with even more joy! I was so tired of living in fear of having everything torn away from me that I gave in, I let go, and I celebrated each and every tradition with enthusiasm.

I really have had a love/hate relationship with family traditions. We’ve come full circle. And after seeing both sides of the fence, I gotta say that for me, I see them as the glue that holds us together. They are the symbols that create our unique blend and flavour of family.

Whether they are inner sanctum traditions, like between a husband and wife or part of a larger family circle, I count on those  crazy, zany, fun, and ok…sometimes even a little torturous get-togethers to keep us close, connected, bonded and strong as a family. 

After having lost the feeling of “family” once before, I now treasure and guard it!

So bring on the Pumpkin Days, Easter, Halloween etc. I am in! Let the traditions begin!

What family traditions do you have and why do you love (or hate) them?

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