Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday: Adding to Traditions

BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON - Unlike last year, there was no shortage of children at the "McGrady Christmas" today. There was a constant background noise as young boys from toddler age to barely pre-teen wandered the house. In fact, pretty much all the normal traditions had returned, including the sibling rivalry of the Baby Boomer generation, even if one of that generation had to call in from Mexico.

Much of that tradition centers on food, and while the main dish may vary over the years between turkey and ham, it's the snacks, side dishes, and dessert that make the meal, and for the past decade the sisters of the Baby Boom generation have been keeping alive the old family recipes. What was really striking this year, though, with the addition of new dishes from the wife of one of my second cousins, was just how much people who had married into the family had contributed to what we now consider traditions. There would be a different mix of salad, cookies, and pies if not for the women that weren't born into the family.

It's not just the cooks adding to the tradition. A husband who married into the family set up one of the best exchanges amongst the boomers of the whole day. For that matter, the whole concept of doing a gift exchange, instead of people buying presents for everyone in attendance, perhaps the biggest single improvement to the family gathering of my lifetime, came originally from someone who married into the family.

Families and traditions are not just defined by those born into them. They are evolving, and just as diversity adds to so many other aspects of life, it can even improve holiday traditions.

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