Melissa - Mesa, Arizona
Entered on March 6, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family
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I believe in making new traditions. I grew up in a conventional two parent house in the Midwest and since my mom comes from a large family, all of our traditions centered around relatives.

My parents had a weekly tradition that I despised as a teenager: Friday night dinner and cards with my mom’s parents. This tradition was adhered to no matter the circumstances. In fact, any date I had on Fridays had to pick me up at Grandma’s. They had to meet everyone that was there, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, cousins and neighbors.

After years of this, my dad transferred to Arizona when I was 17. There were no more weekend trips between Kansas City and Des Moines to see family; no more driving all over the Midwest for two weeks every summer; and no more being bored at my grandparents on Friday nights. Suddenly, it was just my parents, sister and me along with my dad’s father. Our new family traditions included church families and neighbors and after five years of living in Arizona, I married and started my own family.

One of the first traditions my husband and I started is celebrating New Year’s Eve with close friends and family around a bon fire watching fireworks. We also began an annual Memorial Weekend party with an open invitation for everyone-neighbors, friends, acquaintances, family, and work colleagues. It doesn’t matter what was spent on food and beverage or how long the party lasted; we enjoy being with everyone. It’s also a great time to catch up with friends we don’t see as often through the year.

Our most popular tradition is around the holidays. Since my husband is from a large family, we participated in his mother’s tradition of family Mexican fiesta on Christmas Eve. Eventually it became an issue driving all over town trying to visit in-laws and make every one happy. So we took the Christmas Eve Mexican fiesta and made it our own. We also have a sub-tradition with this: about two weeks before Christmas, we get together with a close friend and spend the day making the tamales for the fiesta. The Christmas Eve party quickly grew to include our close friends and their growing families. On Christmas Eve, my house is always full of loving friends and family, laughter, excited children and full bellies. Two years ago we told everyone we were going out of state for Christmas. The 15 year old daughter of a dear friend asked “What are we supposed to do on Christmas Eve?” It was then that we realized we’ve had Christmas Eve together since she was born.

Family has always been integral in my traditions so I hope my children continue them. But I look forward to the traditions I know they will create with their own families.