Creative expression through the written word

Passing down traditions

Yesterday was New Year’s day and I started it early. Getting up to begin the process of making 5 pans of homemade enchiladas. As I was standing in my kitchen, up to my elbows in enchilada ingredients I started thinking about all the years in the past that I remembered my mother making enchiladas. We all loved her enchiladas and would get so excited when she would decide to make them. I also remembered when I had been about 16 and she taught me how to make them for the first time. It seemed like such a major achievement at the time. For years I helped her make them and the whole family would gather together for dinner. It was a dinner not to be missed in our household.

I moved to another state when I was 27 and continued to make enchiladas for my family and soon for most of  my friends too. It became a dinner everyone loved and a tradition for me to make on New Year’s and the Superbowl. My family would beg for me to make them but the labor intensity of them always kept it to a couple of times a year.

I moved back home a few years later and in the 8 years since I’ve been back home my mother has asked me to help her make enchiladas only once. The big family dinner’s of homemade enchiladas has always occurred when I make them now. As I was rolling the enchiladas and gently placing them in the pans it hit me that somehow in the course of a few years (well it only seemed like a few years but in reality it has been 15 years) I had somehow switched places with my mother.

I now had the big family, gathered everyone together, hosted big dinners, cooked for masses and was the matriarchal presence that kept communication and organization moving through our family. Mom is retired and about eight years ago quit cooking for more than 2. Mom jokingly laughs about having forgotten how to cook now that she only has her and dad to worry about. She’s always teasing me about being so glad that I have to “do it all” and she doesn’t but I remember when that wasn’t the case. I can’t help wondering when the day will come when a son or daughter-in-law will take over and I wonder….will they look back as I have done and wonder just when they got handed the baton for the family tradition? 

Will they see the understand the long line of tradition they are upholding? Will they even really care? Is this something that will eventually go by the wayside or something my great-grandchildren will gather for as their families grow? I love traditions and I hope my children and my children’s children will come to love it as much as I do. Although I do have to admit that I am looking forward to embracing new traditions they all bring into the mix.

So, as the New Year begins, may you and yours be blessed with the old traditions that keep your heritage alive and may you also embrace new traditions that keep life exciting.

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