It never occurred to me, as a young mum, that traditions were something I needed to create, so nothing was deliberately planned. Our family had the usual traditions of Christmas Trees, Easter Egg hunts and favourite stories. Life just happened to us — then, over the years, traditions emerged.
Home made Nativity decos. Might be a new tradition.
Every year, while the children were little, we travelled to Adelaide where my husband’s family lived. We wanted our children to know their South Australian family. Any time off we would hit the road to Adelaide. It became a family tradition. We had regular stopping points to avoid going insane. The Sister’s Rocks, near Stawell, to stretch our legs with the children climbing and exploring the area. Then when everyone was sick to death of playing ‘Guess Who’ and ‘I Spy,’ we would tell stories. Each person would take a turn to tell some of the story, then at a ‘cliff hanger’ moment they would hand it over to the next person. They were filled with goodies and baddies and even a few miraculous resurrections if someone killed off a favourite character too soon.
Soon we would be at the Wellington Punt. If the children were awake, we would all hop out to see the mighty Murray River flowing sedately under us. Then we’d drive, for what felt like hours, until the moment we turned the corner and saw the stunning view of Victor Harbour.
Sometime during the stay we would walk across to Granite Island and back and say hello to the Clydesdales. It was all the little things that our children loved to see and do that became the traditions.
Wye River holidays became a tradition. We needed a holiday after spending ten days, in Lakes Entrance, running children’s programmes, with Scripture Union Family Mission. Friends offered us their beach house, in Wye River, so we could recover from the ten day stint.
We did that for many years until — you guessed it — it became a tradition. Some of our fondest family memories were made in Wye River.
Then when the children were teenagers and young adults, they knew their friends were always welcome for meals or sleepovers. I preferred to have a noisy house full and know where my children were. We had a lot of spontaneous BBQ’s. I hated to think of anyone being alone at Christmas and some of the young people we knew had difficult homes or no parents, so we made Boxing Day an open house day. We would invite anyone and everyone, family and friends. We had the most wonderful crowds of disparate people and it was one of my favourite traditions.
New traditions are developing as the next generation grows. Traditions are really just memories of happy times. We want to experience a repeat of the feelings. The laughter, the love, the warm peace that fills our souls as we remember the familiar activities, places and people. Often the replica is nothing compared to the memory we stowed away so carefully.
Traditions are not set in concrete, or at least, they shouldn’t be. If we lose our flexibility they stop being traditions and become rules — those things we have to do. We have seen, all too clearly, in some settings, often religious settings, how traditions can become rules everyone must live by. No one wants that. Sometimes we deliberately mix it up just so a tradition doesn’t begin to rule our lives.
Boxing Day 2019, we invited friends and family to a BBQ, just like the old Dowding’s Boxing Day BBQ’s when our children were home. It was wonderful to see our grandchildren and the next generation of cousins playing together.
Some of our Family in 2019
This year, during a Covid Pandemic, we decided not to have a Boxing Day BBQ, after all it’s not a rule, it’s a tradition. Boxing Day 2020, we pottered around, read books, did some gardening and watched trashy Christmas movies. Now it is time for the next generation to create their own traditions, and that’s as it should be.