Traditions matter. While I’ve supported that notion on some level for a long time, it took a lesson from my 10 year old for me to fully internalized it.
Each year, our elementary school conducts a Thanksgiving pageant. It’s a lovely time and highly predictable. Kindergarteners sing while doing sign language. First and 2nd graders sing charming songs of gratitude. The 3rd grade performs a play of the original Thanksgiving Day and the 4th grade does a waltz. There is an all-school potluck afterwards. If you’ve been attending our school since kindergarten, by the time your child enters 4th grade, you’ll have done this 5 times.
So, as a parent, I can declare the monotony of knowing exactly what to expect or I can adopt my 4th grade son’s perspective, “Finally! We get to do the waltz!”
Bound inside of this repetitive performance is a surplus of childhood anticipation and comfort. The anticipation flows from knowing that one day they’ll get to waltz and the comfort lies in knowing what will be expected of them and how the performance will flow. I’ve blogged on this topic often. I’ve called it structured framework, routine, discipline or family tradition but it’s always come from me – a person who thrives on change and variety. The reality is that the performance is never the same. The 3rd grade King James this year was just as brilliant as last year’s performer but with a new personality and the tissues were in the hands of a different mom. I loved the dance more than I ever have but the young man doing the box waltz had my heart in his every move.
Traditions and schedules cause predictability in our lives but the repetition also creates enormous freedom in that we know what to expect and can live into that discipline. Children know this from a really young age when they begin to adhere to a regular schedule of naps and snacks and storytime.
Today is our Thanksgiving. There are many traditional things about Thanksgiving including the holiday itself. We eat turkey and stuffing and cranberries and pumpkin pie. We tell others what we are thankful for. On a personal level, it’s my favorite holiday. There are no gifts but for the good food and family. It’s an appropriate time to work other traditions into the day; having kids help with the meal, leaving a bowl for guests to drop handwritten gratitudes, or repeating a favorite family recipe. Here’s the simple dish we took to the potluck this year. It’s one we use often – a bit of tradition:
- 3 lbs fingerling or new potatoes, large ones halved or quartered
- olive oil to coat
- sea salt
- black pepper
- several sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves separated from stems
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put potatoes in a container and cover with approximately 3 Tbs olive oil. Cover with a tight fitting lid and shake to coat. Place into a a baking dish or tray. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste. Cover with fresh rosemary and place in oven. Roast the potatoes for about 30 minutes until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.