...the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs or information from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.
Traditions are very interesting. Some traditions are ingrained in us by our cultural or ethnic background. Others are more personal and come from our families. Having Southern roots and a large but close-knit family, most of my traditions fall into this second category. Christmas morning held many traditions during my childhood. My household would awake early and anxiously await the arrival of my paternal grandparents (Me-Maw & Pe-Paw) and my aunt & uncle (Sissy & Ray). Uncle Ray owned a Pontiac dealership and always drove a white convertible. On Christmas morning, he & Sissy would pull into our driveway with the top down, even when it was snowing, and presents piled to almost overflowing. To my childish eyes, he looked like Santa Claus in a convertible! The family would gather around the tree, each staking out a spot on the couch or in a chair. My brother & I would hand out the presents. Present opening was always the same...we opened them one person at a time, starting with the youngest and going to the oldest. We all watched the person who was opening their presents and made appropriate sounds of approval and joy. It was a good thing Me-Maw was always the last because she insisted on saving the bows and not ripping the paper so it could be used again next year. This painstakingly precise process took a long time and my brother & I had very little patience!
New Year's Day is also steeped in tradition. Eating black-eyed peas insures good health in the new year and eating greens brings you wealth. Being with family & friends on New Year's Day will signify happiness for the year. So, today I ate my greens & peas and spent time with friends. I certainly don't want to tempt fate. However, I have a few personal traditions that I observed today. I always watch as many college football games as I can on this day. Today the Dawgs and the Noles made me proud. And while I am watching football, I am taking down the Christmas tree and the decorations. As fond as I am of Christmas, it is always refreshing to see all the space in my living room when the tree is gone! However, I have one tradition that might sound a little strange. I have a beautiful island in my kitchen which is more like an old-fashioned sideboard. Steve designed it and his good friend, Frank Clements, built it using heart pine. It has stood in the same spot for 25 years. Frank instructed me to oil it once a year to keep it looking good. Over the years, it has developed a venerable patina. A dark circle is visible where a hot pan slipped off the trivet. A faint red stain remains from kool-aid. The yearly oilings have softened these imperfections without erasing pleasant memories of happy times. Today I oiled the sideboard with Georgia olive oil. It brought back memories of Steve and Frank and every friend who shared a meal or a conversation around it.