This I Believe
I believe in family. I believe in traditions. I believe it is important to teach the future generations about family traditions. What you teach children now is what they will teach their children, your grandchildren and, hopefully, your great-grandchildren.
Traditions build who you are as an individual; they help shape your character. We celebrate most of the same traditions, but it’s the way we celebrate them, and who we celebrate them with that make them our own.
Every Christmas Eve, since I was an infant, we drove into San Antonio to my great- grandmother’s house and have dinner. Everyone was there – aunts, uncles, great-aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins…everyone! The kids flocked to the guest room and watch Rudolph and other Christmas specials on television; while the adults were busy trading gifts in a game of White Elephant – a trading game my family gets very over excited about. The smells of all the different kinds of food: Tamales, bunuelos, rice, beans, ham, and everything in-between. My mom and I spent all day in our cozy kitchen making pumpkin pies and her famous borracho beans to take to the party. After everyone had eaten, we’d have to wait until midnight to open the gifts from family, some of whom we only got to see on holidays. Wrapping paper covers the entire living room floor, as the kids admire their newly acquired gifts. After hours of visiting, eating, laughing and singing, we would walk down the street to my grandparent’s house – tired as we were – and fall into a sweet, deep sleep with dreams of the next morning.
My sister and I were always the first ones up, and would run to our stockings hanging next to the garlands on the banister. They were filled to the top with candy, toys, and little knick-knacks to keep us busy until the whole family had emerged from their slumber. When my grandma finally arose, she made an elaborate breakfast, which always included Mexican-style hot chocolate to keep our bellies content. Presents from under the tree were then opened in several rounds of “youngest to oldest” – I always liked being first! The morning always seemed to drag on and on while this whole tradition took place, but after we had finished sharing our little treasures, it all seemed worth it.
Someday, when I have my own family, these memories will help me shape my own family traditions, like guidelines. They’re not going to always be the same, but those memories of my family’s traditions will always be mine; their examples my life lessons. And when my children have children, they will hopefully teach these traditions to their children.
While Christmas is one of my favorite traditions, there are so many more. The family is considered the most basic unit of society and how we treat each other within the walls of our own homes, ultimately affects the way we treat our “extended” family: neighbors, classmates, co-workers and our country. They are all part of our extended family that we must honor and respect. Traditions are more than pleasant memories; they are a real part of our being that add substance to our life. This I believe.