I grew up in a family of mismatched people and no traditional celebrations other than birthdays. We were different from most families, but we were the “fun” family. People always wanted to hang out with us at our house. I suppose that could be considered a tradition in itself. No matter where we lived, it was always a given that the place to hang out was at my house.
When I was young I longed to have the traditional family. The gatherings, the long lost cousins coming to visit once a year on Thanksgiving or Christmas. We didn’t have extended family. There was no one to come. I promised myself when I grew up and had my own family, I would ALWAYS have a traditional get together on the holidays, inviting many friends and family to feel the love I wanted to share.
Welcome to reality. By the time I was married and had a child, it was too late to start these traditions I wanted to share. My mom had passed, my then husband’s family had their own celebrations in another state and were too old to travel, and basically, he never allowed me to invite people over. I was forbidden to ever have a dinner party or gathering. If I did, he would always find a way to ruin it, or make me “pay” in some verbal or mental way. So, I avoided it, just to keep the peace.
Finally divorced the man that caused so much anguish for me for over 13 years. I was finally free to start new traditions with my little girl. But wait, she is only with me on even years as per the divorce. So much for the traditional celebrations, again.
Imagine how excited I was when I fell in love just before Valentine’s day 2011. I’d NEVER had a Valentine. Then we celebrated 4th of July together. Oh boy. Next up, Thanksgiving. Plans were made, time off from work scheduled. Heart break 3 weeks before the turkey was to be cooked up and served with love and tradition in a mountain community surrounded by a family I had fallen in love with. So, my friend lovingly invited me to her home, with her family in from California, to celebrate with them. It was wonderful to be among the love and noise of this family. However, it wasn’t mine.
How blessed I was to fall in love again just before Valentine’s day, 2012! As we cautiously nurtured this relationship, we spent time together, Memorial day, a birthday, vacation time, even flew out of state for a concert. I was hopeful for the start of a new tradition with my new love. Possible Thanksgiving with him or he with us. Life is so cruel sometimes. Heartbreak again. A month before the warm roasted turkey would be served with savory stuffing and warm pies from the oven. Now it felt like I would just die, a nice bologny sandwich would suffice at this point. Who needs tradition? Not me. I never had it, why start now?
Another loving invite from the same friend who took me in last year. Then it dawned on me. I do have a new tradition. I have a friend who treats me better than my family ever did, than any man ever has, and that means a heck of a lot more than any heartbreak just before a holiday.
New traditions? Definitely. May not have been the way I saw them in my “visions and fantasies”, but God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave me Angela Staples and her loving family as my earthly angels. My traditions may not be a set table in my own home with my significant other and our children. My traditions may not be with my blood kin. Apparently, my traditions are just like they were when I was growing up. Mine. My traditions. Eclectic. Spur of the moment. The place that love built. In my heart my traditions will always be, and I will always and forever be grateful for loving friends that seem to always be there for me at the exact time I need them.
Funny isn’t it? How God has TRADITIONally provided exactly what I need, at exactly the right time?