[truh–dish–uhn] The handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.
I don’t know about you, but our family is not heavily grounded in “traditions,” certainly not elaborate ones. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps it is because, during our married life, Larry and I have never lived in the same town as our parents or other members of our “families of origin.” In addition, he came from a very small town in Northern California, raised on a ranch, while I grew up in Southern California, in the land of freeways and shopping malls. Throw in the fact that he was from a very “traditonal” family (i.e. one dad, one mom, two children) vs. my background from a “blended family,” and it’s no wonder that when we became our own family, we found that our background traditions were very different from one another. In addition, in the interest of equal time and the desire to be “flexible” in how we shared holidays and occasions with families on both sides, we never seemed to do exactly the same thing year after year. And now, add to the mix the fact that our daughter and son-in-law are a military family, well, variety is the spice of our life.
This is not to say that I don’t value “traditions,” I absolutely do; but I tend to look to the everyday traditions as the ones that truly help to weave a family together; the traditions that help to make a home the place of shelter from the storms of life, the place where you can come and know that there is “scramble” in the Tupperware container on the bread cupboard and that we’re having pizza for dinner; it’s Thursday night, after all.
One of my favorite stories of “traditions” has to do with my brother-in-law’s family. My sister and her husband are fortunate enough to live in close proximity to her in-laws. My brother-in-law’s parents lived in a lovely home on a hill overlooking Ventura. They lived there forever and I don’t think much had ever changed over the decades.
One of the most enduring (not to mention, endearing) traditions that John and Paulina built was “Pancakes.” Yep, pancakes. Every Saturday morning, John would make pancakes. We’re not talking Bisquick, here. We’re talking pancakes from a sourdough starter that he’d had for years and years. I don’t know for sure, but I imagine that every Friday evening, John would get out the starter and lovingly feed it, prepping for the next morning.
On Saturday, when you walked up the path, you were greeted at the front door by Paulina, “Come in! Come in! We’re so happy you could be here!” Stepping into the dining room, you would be enveloped by the smell of coffee, set out on the side table. And, there was John, standing at the griddle with his handy batter dispenser already cranking out those pancakes. Turning, you’d notice the dining room table was set with place settings for anywhere between ten and twenty; often, the “kids’ table” was set up in the living room for a few more with overflow at the breakfast nook.
Since John and Paulina were the parents of SIX children, most of whom lived close by, not to mention being the couple who welcomed everyone, you just never knew how many would be there for pancakes. There’d be the new boyfriend of one of the granddaughters, a giggling gaggle of pre-teens in assorted forms of pajamas who had just spent the night together brought by another granddaughter, the college roommate of another grandchild, the out-of-town sister of a daughter-in-law, the business associate of a son. It also seemed there was always at least ONE occupant of a high chair as well; that happens when you have 14+ grandchildren. All were welcome to “Come For Pancakes.”
And oh, the conversations! Funny, irreverant, serious, poignant, celebratory, solemn; the dining room was filled with everything from a discussion of the current political scene to a discussion of the upcoming family reunion, from last night’s high school football game to Uncle Dave’s recent surfing adventure.
And then, it was time for everyone to get on with their Saturday. Off they’d go, to soccer, to Saturday chores, to work, to a fundraising event, or to play. Some might linger to read the newspaper in the sun room, or help John clear leaves from the gutter. Like a flock of finches that had all gathered at the birdhouse, now they were flying off in a thousand different directions. But, on this Saturday morning, like so many Saturday mornings, the house had been filled with the sights and sounds of a “tradition.” Come For Pancakes. No matter what the storms of life would bring, for a little while, there was predictability, there was a tradition.
And so, I have found that we’ve started to build a similar tradition at our house.
“Why don’t you come for breakfast?” It started last fall; the weekdays are crazy. Our son coaches high school football and his precious Ashley is a busy working mommy. Their schedules can be insane; during the fall, particularly his. But on Sundays, well, on Sundays we can take a break and get caught up with one another. No matter what the upcoming week will hold for each of us, this is the day to just be together. The Sunday paper is on the family room table, the coffee is in the carafe. We might have waffles or cinnamon rolls with eggs and bacon. We might have “Breakfast Casserole” (thanks, Lorna and JoLee, for this culinary treat). There is no grand expectation; just come, share, eat, renew, recharge and then, off you go.
I hope that, one day, my home will be the gathering place for many more little finches (although, I’d have to adopt about four more children to catch up with John and Paulina). But, for now, whoever can, “Why Don’t You Come for Breakfast?”