Side Note: while we’re on the subject I can’t help but mention this book simply because it greatly shaped the way I view our family traditions. Carry on.
I love making memories like the salt dough mountain we make every Easter.
I love the thought of doing things with my boys, like our Jesse Tree that we make each Christmas, and wondering if the day will come when they might do the same thing with their families
If you had asked me two years ago about our family traditions and what they would look like overseas I would have told you we were going to create new ones and that I was looking forward to it. I would have said that the tradition is more about “being together” and “making memories” than it was about a certain activity, food, craft or even the emotions that come from those different things.
Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop in mid-August with Arabic music blaring in the background. I can only understand a small percent of the conversations continually swirling around me. And 100+ degree heat is beating down on my arm that is currently covered with sleeves to the wrist. We are through another year of birthdays at our house. The holidays seem ages away. And as different as life is today- it feels normal. For today.
But I’d be painting an inaccurate picture if I told you creating new traditions and letting go of the way “we used to do things” had come easy for
us, me. To be honest with you, on more than one occasion it has completely brought me to my knees and left me crying behind a closed door hoping that one of my boys wouldn’t walk in.
So what happened to that grandiose vision of creating new and more “international” traditions? Well…
– When you’ve ALWAYS had a big, fat ham at Easter and now you can’t find a shred of pork because it’s religiously forbidden… your heart may sink.
-And when the Douglas Fir and it’s deep green pine needles that used to fill your entire home with the smell of Christmas is replaced with a sparkly, plastic branch and a cinnamon candle…. you might get a wee bit misty eyed.
-And when your birthday falls during one of the two most important holidays in this part of the world, which closes everything down and pretty much brings the city to a stand still…you’ll have to put on your big girl face and fight back the tears while telling yourself you’ll just celebrate another time because after all, it doesn’t really matter. Does it?
-And as thankful as you are to celebrate new life with your family and best girlfriends, a baby shower that takes place over Skype is just not the same as one where you get to hug necks and giggle together.
It turns out I treasured those traditions a little more than I had realized. And that’s ok. Our traditions and memories play a major part in shaping who we are. So, don’t be surprised when you move overseas and you really miss the old way of celebrating special occasions or you crave those little traditions you and those closest to you have formed through the years. When you move to another country with new normals, new traditions and a whole new way of life, it is inevitable that you will develop new traditions, but the old ones will still hold deep meaning.
So my advice to you would be this.
2) But I’d also tell you to make room in your suitcase for a few things that make the unknown a little less unfamiliar. Pack up those family photos and hang them up when you arrive. Make room for that plate you ate your wedding cake from on your 1st anniversary and pull it out every year. Throw the hand towel your cousin made you with the outline of your home state in your carry on bag. That Yankee candle you can only get at Cracker Barrel that smells exactly like “fall,” buy a couple of them. And don’t forget that necklace your mama gave you when you left “home”…you’re gonna wish you had it.