Sunday, December 21, 2008

Traditions

The boys are at this moment watching the 30+ year old Christmas specials we watched when we were children ourselves...you know, Rudolph, Frosty and the gang. It is easy to forget sometimes that the traditions we create for our kids will be remembered long after we are gone. I am not really good at creating traditions...I am not one of those moms who has caught up scrap books, every school photo in dated frames, locks of hair saved from first haircuts (Actually we have never been present for first haircuts! Guess I am off the hook on that one!) or teeth saved from tooth fairy midnight raids. It is something I wish I was much better at...routines and traditions. We do have a few such as watching these classics, trying to bake sometime before Christmas, going trick or treating with friends every year, and things like that. But nothing really enduring I guess has ever become a firm tradition. I always envy moms that are good at that sort of thing.

I also envy moms who are "classic moms"...who look and dress and act like "real moms" which I never really see myself as. You know as I'll bet many of you are more what my image of a "real mom" is...you have cute holiday vests for every occasion hanging in your closet, you are always ready with cool cupcakes and special treats from magazines for school parties, you are members of the PTA and are always the Team Mom, your hair always looks great and is styled nicely, you have more than one purse to match different outfits, you likely never wear sneakers and instead know exactly what kind of loafers or whatever name you call cool shoes go with jeans and you probably have great socks to go with them too instead of white athletic socks. You are soft and warm and fuzzy, you have smiles that light up a room and you can actually hem a pair of pants. That is the kind of mom I have always wished I was and yet know instinctively was impossible for me to be.

No, I am more the mom that is frazzled looking all the time, and wouldn't know how to be stylish if I tried. I ALWAYS and I do repeat ALWAYS turn our library books in late and owe fines, and if given the option for a gift I would never select a day at the spa but would die to go shopping for an electronic device of some sort. I wear really scruffy sneakers. I don't have cute decorator items on our walls as I have no clue how to select that great looking stuff (see, I don't even know a good term for that kind of stuff!). I am not polished and in fact more often look like the polishing cloth! hahahaha!

But as I thought about it today, I realized I have generated some silly little traditions...like making up songs for each of my kids as I rocked them to sleep and singing quietly to them as they beg for even now that they are older. Overnight campouts in our bedroom where I tell really stupid adventure stories that make no sense but have everyone dissolving into giggles. Recognizing loving acts and pointing them out for the entire family to celebrate. Having friends over often to fill our house with warmth and laughter. Having "dates" with each of the boys that might not be terribly exciting but allow us to have some "alone time" to visit and share our thoughts. Singing in the car at the top of our lungs really, really badly and laughing about it. Involving the boys in serving others in one form or another, whether it is raking leaves for neighbors, picking up trash from the highway or shucking corn for Habitat for Humanity at our Corn Festival. Or whenever we attack a project we get in a circle and put our hands in the middle, football huddle style, and yell "Go Team LaJoy...WOOOOO!"

So while I could never send our traditions into Parenting Magazine in the hopes they would be written up in an article, I guess we have a few LaJoy memories that will be held in the kids' hearts when they are old and gray. Not sure if they are worthy of being passed down from generation to generation but they are ours, and we love 'em.

Today after church we went with a few friends to sing carols at a couple of local nursing homes. It was the first time the boys had ever been in one, and they were curious and a bit taken aback as we went in. Let's face it, most adults don't even enjoy being in places such as this to visit, as it cuts to the core of our very worst fears...that we might find ourselves living in such circumstances one day. It makes us think about things we'd prefer to relegate to a closed file cabinet drawer within our mind, never to be opened.

There is a scent that permeates such facilities, and a sense of hopelessness that is impossible to shake. Life there is suspended, the outside world forgotten and a new very limited world is presented. I was struck by the comparison of nursing homes and orphanages, of people warehoused and long forgotten while just outside the front door life moves on for the rest of us.

We sang carols, this little group of ours, and slowly I saw the boys each become gradually a bit more comfortable...Kenny walking up to wheelchair bound seniors shaking hands with those who had little recognition of what was going on around them, Joshie wandering up and down the halls ahead of us singing Jingle Bells, Matthew peering into rooms shyly waving hello and saying "Merry Christmas". The longer we were there, the less uncomfortable all of us became as the humanity of each and every person before us became apparent. The basic human need for love and the touch of another exists within all of us, and it was good for the boys to see that although these older folks might look a bit scary or act a bit different they are really the same as you or I.

So perhaps today we stumbled upon what might be a new LaJoy tradition.

Another unwanted tradition seems to be that the beginning of ski season triggers the destruction of a computer caused by one defect or another. One reason I have not posted this week was that my beloved Yellow Dellow, which admittedly had well over 100,000 figurative miles on it and worn out keys already in 11 months, decided to choose this time to crash its hard drive. My laptop is to me what most people's wristwatch is to them, or perhaps their cell phone. Being without it is like wandering around half naked!! Dell has stepped up to the plate though and offered to replace both the hard drive and the DVD drive and to have a technician take care of it all for us, which is great but will take awhile. I am hoping I can salvage some of what was on the hard drive but am not holding my breath.

We look forward to Christmas Eve service this week, spending time with friends on Christmas Day at our home, and yes even opening a present or two. Hopefully, the most important traditions have already been embedded...a tradition of recognizing the real reason for the holiday, a tradition of seeing that God works through us to touch the lives of others, a tradition of understanding that the love we have for one another is the most precious gift we have to give.

If I don't have time before hand to write, Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cindy,
The traditions you talked about are exactly the ones that should be written up and sent into a parenting magazine. If only to tell people that whatever works for your family should be the traditions that you keep. You would most likely all be uncomfortable with the cookie cutter traditions you talked about.
Send them in!!
My sister and I still laugh about wearing my father's, clean, underwear on our heads during family "parties."
Kim presently in Floriday, usually in Seoul

Anonymous said...

Cindy - You are so silly! You are a REAL mom to your boys! I, too, think you SHOULD send in your traditions to parenting magazines. You should see my sneakers! My kids will remember my tradition of coming home from work and immediately throwing on my favorite, yet ugly, pair of grey sweats and my favorite sweatshirt I got for five bucks at a second hand store because they are sooo comfortable. I wonder what my children remember as our traditions as things have changed so much since they have left home and our schedules, at the moment, make it difficult to keep up with any particular holiday tradition. I hope they remember that I read them the Christmas story every Christmas Eve as we drank hot chocolate and set out cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer. I think I'll ask them what their memories are. One of mine is of getting into my father's sock drawer on Christmas Eve, after attending a candlelight church service and singing beautiful Christmas hymns, and picking out the biggest argyle socks we could find to put by the fireplace for Santa to fill. We are all fortunate to have warm memories of Christmas, whatever they may be, and you sharing your traditions through your blog helps me remember what the season is all about - the birth of Christ, family, warmth and love. I wish all of you all of those things and I wish every child in the world at least a moment of feeling some warmth, hope and most of all love.

Anonymous said...

Oops - didn't sign my entry - Meant to say, Love from Miss Joan

Maureen said...

Please don't ever doubt that you are a "real mom." From everything I read, you are the most wonderful of moms. You love your children unconditionally, you listen to them, you are involved in their activities, you have fun with them. You are 100% a real mom!!!!

Also, I think it's wonderful that you took the boys to carol at a nursing home. As you mentioned most people avoid them. I spent every Sunday for many years of my childhood visiting my Grandmother in a nursing home, and I think it has helped me to appreciate that although it is uncomfortable for most of us to see, they are just people who look forward to companionship.

Merry Christmas!
Maureen in Ohio

Lori said...

Cindy...as I was reading, I was mentally checking off in my head, "Yep--cute vest, yep-have recipe on top of recipe for cool aquarium cakes and awesome caramel apple Halloween treats just WAITING to be made, yep--have WAY too many purses (all to match something) and twice that in shoes (again, WAY too many), yep--lovely little santa socks, complete with the bell that jingles as I walk, yep-smiling has been told to be my best attribute (Though I couldn't hem a pair of pants to save my life)" ANYWAY...in honesty, I could see myself just as you typed those qualities. HOWEVER...I can't wait for the day that my cute vest has the lovely aroma of baby spit, I could care less what purse or shoes I am wearing because a diaper bag and some slippers will probably be my choice of ensemble, I'll be too tired to even LOOK at recipes and will be lucky if Mrs. Smith even wants to show up at my house, and I'll have to de-bell every cutesie sock I have because the baby tries to eat it.

You are one of the most REAL moms I *know*!! Your love for your kids is REALLY evident, your passion for their well-being is REALLY deep and your dedication and commitment to them is as REAL as real can be. Gifts may come in different packages with different wrapping, but the gift is still the gift--don't think for one second that your boys don't know of anything more real than you--their mom.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness God makes us all different, some of us frilly, and some of us not, some of us decorators, and some of us not -- but we all love our children the best way we know how, and that is all that matters.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. May the coming year bring you much joy and peace.

Love from Peggy in VIrginia

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