Starting the Conversation… Because It’s a Tradition…

By Marianne Reid Anderson


My brother likes to jokingly say that our family puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional” and there’s no time like the holidays where that becomes more apparent, especially when it comes to traditions. The thing about my family is that if we do something once and it actually goes well, then it automatically becomes a tradition that we do every year. My husband once asked why that was and before I could say that if something goes right – that deserves a celebration all by itself – instead my 11 year old nephew Patrick spoke up and quoted the musical Fiddler On The Roof and said, “Because it’s a tradition and because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to be.” Ah, from the mouth of babes.
One of our annual traditions that went well right from the start was to go up to a tree farm in Zelienople  and chop down our own Christmas tree. The farm also offers hot chocolate and gift shop filled with one-of-a-kind items. They take you to the trees and back again via hay ride and you can even bring the family dog along for the quest. We then head out to Quaker Steak and Lube  – I can switch this – and feast on wings, wings and more wings. My brother-in-law looks forward to this day so much that he actually announces the date for next year in amongst orders of wings.
My dear friends the Mornewecks just introduced us to a tradition of a special family dinner in memory of all those who have passed. At the dinner, we serve the favorite dishes each relative savored the most, for example, in memory of my Uncle Mike, we serve fried shrimp and in memory of my Aunt Marie we serve bacon-cheeseburger sliders, in memory of my Aunt Bernie, I make my homemade pierogies and in memory of my Uncle Harry we serve ice cream for dessert. It makes for an eclectic menu but the smells of each dish really bring back the memories. Then, we bring out the photos and home movies and reminisce about our love ones so our memories don’t fade and we can pass the memories on to our younger generation.
We also usually set one extra place at Thanksgiving to honor all those who can’t be with us whether it is due to illness, distance or weather.
What are some of your family holiday traditions? We are always looking for more to add to our annual traditions. I so hope you will share them with me on my blog at