We Are Family
That is my family. Aren't we cute? This picture was taken a while back as you can tell by my girth and the absence of my sisters current husband. But, for the most part there we are. The "Marinara's" in all of our glory and splendor. I love my family very much. We certainly put the "fun" in disfunctional, and to be honest, I like that about us. We are an odd group, a group that I don't think would have come together any other way than to be born into it. As my dad likes to say, we are worse then the mafia, you can't even die to get out.
Traditions in my family are far from formal. On your birthday you get to pick what you want to eat for dinner and what kind of cake you want. Christmas presents are opened Christmas morning, the Easter bunny stops at our place, etc. etc. I never thought we did anything out of the ordinary tradition wise. But the word tradition doesn't just apply to our actions at holidays. It also is defined as a thought pattern passed on from one generation to another. That is often stronger than when you open presents and which events are a big deal in your house. The way of thinking that is passed from parent to child, the values that are infused into us from the cradle on. Those are the things that matter most.
My parents did a lot of things that I hope to replicate with my children and many that I pray I will not.
When we were very small my mother would have us lay on her bed and listen to classical music. Then, as we listened she would have us close our eyes and tell the story the music was telling us. My younger sister and I would tell her tales of wolves and little lost children, we would tell her about mermaids and ponies and running through the jungle. Those were the first stories I told, the first ignition of my imagination, those were the first visions of other lives that passed through my head. Not long after those afternoons in the golden light of that old bedroom I would begin to write those visions down, something I haven't stopped doing since I knew how to string letters and words and sentences together.
We were read to. And not just little kid books, but novels and scriptures. I remember watching my mother read and knowing how important her books were to her. She taught me to treat books, words and language well.
We always said "I love you." Both of my parents grew up with parents who didn't verbally express their love. My parents made a point of always telling us how they felt. Even now, I can never get through a phone call or conversation with them without them telling me how much the love me at least twice.
There were always multiple birthday cards. My mom could never decide on a birthday card for us. There was the funny one, the sentimental one, the silly one and each one was perfect in some way. So instead of choosing, she would just buy them all and write a different message in each. Both my sister and I are horribly guilty of this behavior. We are compulsive greeting card buyers.
There are many, many, many things I do not want to take from my family experience. I want to leave behind a lot of the ugly things that have happened to me in my life. But despite those ugly things, so often at the hands of those I loved so much, I would rather have gone through those experiences with the people I call my family than with anyone else. They have molded me, sometimes gently and lovingly, other times with great harshness, but either way I have been shaped by them. When I pull my own children from the clay of paternity and attempt to make them into good people I will follow in the tradition of my parents for some things and blaze new trails on my own. Just as my mom and dad did. Just as their parents did. That may be the finest of all the traditions we have. The tradition that is change - making better for our children what we can while preserving those things that shaped us into the men and women we are now.