Saturday, December 10, 2011

Traditions are About People

Thanksgiving 2011 has come and gone.  At The Knox Manor, we paid proper respect to time honored traditions. There was turkey on the table, we watched the Dallas Cowboys play later in the afternoon, and we at least thought about getting the Christmas decorations out of the garage.  Everything appeared to be in proper order.  On the surface, it was a normal Thanksgiving.   But that was
definitely not the case.

We knew that Randall would not be with us for Thanksgiving this year.  You just don’t pop in from Los Angeles for the weekend. We actually knew well in advance that we would not see him until December.  On the surface everyone in the family took his absence really well.  But when the boys asked their mother to prepare her traditional pumpkin dump cake for the Thursday feast, she graciously declined. She told them she would wait and make it for Christmas dinner when Randall was home.  All three of the boys join me for an annual vicious, cutthroat, no holes barred game of Monopoly over the Thanksgiving Holiday. There was a casual reference to playing this year, but it just never happened.  The boys also go shopping with me during that weekend sometime.  It is a good time to buy mom a Christmas present or two. But no one seemed interested in that annual event either.

I have had a few weeks to process our reaction to the absence of one of our own at an important time in the year. Several things occur to me.  I have thought to myself more than once: This is what we get for encouraging independence.  Our children have always been very independent.  When we took them to church camp in the summer, they never looked back.  Randall was not inclined to burn out the highway driving home when he was in college. There were people to meet and things to do!

Most importantly though I have realized that traditions are about people.  Monopoly is fun for sure.  But it is fun, because of the people sitting around the table. Jan’s pumpkin dump cake is to die for, but she makes it for the boys.  It is a gesture of love. Christmas shopping is not my favorite past time, but I enjoy hanging out with my boys.  Tradition is about the people we love.

I learned a hard lesson this year. I learned to value the most important people in my life like I never have before.  And I figured out what drives tradition.  That conclusion could prove to be a significant insight as well.  Words of wisdom as Christmas rapidly approaches this year:  Value tradition.  Enjoy it.  Take lots of pictures. Don’t forgo any of your annual family practices.

Randall flies home Monday.  Late Monday night another tradition will ensue.  We will go out to eat in Dallas and I will pay the bill.  For some reason I think the time honored tradition of me picking up the tab will not end soon…I will just tell myself: it is about the person! And that would be true. 

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