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Traditions Are a Love Language

Some things never change and that might be good

By Brenda MahlerPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Image from author’s photos

This is my granddaughter when she got out of bed. On this evening she put on makeup using a permanent marker before going downstairs to see her mother.

My daughter got out of bed often at night and each time I sternly asked, “Katie, what do you need?” After hearing about her sore knee, a monster under her bed, or that she needed a drink, I sent her back with a hug and a pat on her back, just enough attention to offer support but not enough to encourage her return.

Her innocent eyes expressed a desire for something more than medical attention. So obeying my motherly instincts, I embraced her insecurities but insisted it was time, knowing that if she didn’t go to bed, I would be cranky in the morning. Katie, realizing she had pressed the limits, eventually scurried upstairs and remained there.

Being a mother was a full-time job that required continual overtime. No time clocks allowed me to check out at the end of a shift, and by bedtime, every nerve ending tingled from mental and physical manipulations. Exhaustion pushed me to bed at night and accompanied me in the morning.

During the holidays, both daughters’ excitement transformed them into bouncing balls without aim or direction. To this day, I swear the aroma of cinnamon has the ability to cause hyperactivity, and Christmas music causes the synapse in the brain to malfunction. The fact that I felt compelled to fulfill every single tradition didn’t ease my pressure.

Christmas memories of my mom and dad reminded me that my overexuberance came from my parents. One year when the children, my husband, and myself were still in bed, we heard the garage door open. A quick glance out the window informed us my parents had arrived to experience the morning escapade with us. There is nothing like watching children’s eyes light up the moment they see what Santa has delivered.

By the time we got downstairs, Mom and Dad were sitting at the table eating cinnamon rolls and drinking freshly brewed coffee. In our family, everyone shares the excitement of Christmas.

However, growing up Mom must have been exhausted because my brother and I were not allowed to get out of bed on Christmas morning until Mom and Dad appeared. Might have had something to do with Santa.

“Can we get up yet?” my brother and I would alternate asking early, really early, in the morning. After pleading and prodding, they would finally consent, and we tumbled over each other to get to the presents. The adults sat waiting, hoping the coffee would keep them awake and holding a camera to remind them of those moments in the future.

We unpacked the stockings first, rummaging to retrieve what we knew would be inside: an orange, a pomegranate, a box of chocolate mints, candy canes and a few trinkets. That was how the day began.

So when it became my turn to fulfill Santa’s responsibilities, fruit, mints, and trinkets reappeared, with pomegranates tucked in the toe of each stocking.

Last week our daughters started discussing the traditions. Kari asked what the large wooden candle holder with a fan at the top had is called, then announced she wanted one. Tradition.

Kat asked what those red fruits are called that we only got once a year. Tradition.

They sent pictures of the gingerbread houses they made. Tradition.

Then I got a video of the Mickey Mouse and friends toy singing holiday tunes. Tradition.

It created a warm feeling to know even though we can’t be together this year, the traditions remain.

But the text that brought a huge smile to my face was from Kat, the girl who wouldn’t stay in bed. She reported an experience with her 4-year-old daughter.

“My child has gotten out of bed 3 times. I told her if she gets out of bed again, she’s going to be in trouble. This child waits 10 minutes then comes downstairs. I’m about to raise my voice and she says frantically. “No, no, no, Mom!!! I’m just coming down to apologize.”

As I flashbacked to an earlier time, I smiled. Some things never change and that might be good.


About the Creator

Brenda Mahler


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