52 Activities for Family Fun, and some other ideas I've come up with recently, drawn from my new-grandma status. After the interview was over, I realized almost all the ideas I felt had meaning had something to do with tradition. None of the things were big and expensive; on the contrary, they were small, sometimes silly, things.
This hit home again yesterday, when I woke up on my birthday morning anticipating the expected joys of the day: A well-chosen card from my husband (he is the master of card-choosing), Cadbury creme eggs (which I was going to buy for myself, but my daughter Brennyn beat me to the punch by sending me some through the mail), enchiladas for dinner, flowers, and a card mocking my age from my teenage son (along with a very sweet note). These are the things that cause me to look forward to the day, because they are, well, expected. Chevy's Fresh Mex and the scratch-and-sniff-better-with-age-stinky-cheese card, are, by themselves, not the stuff dreams are made of, but they are the fabric of birthdays past, present, and future.
I used to think I failed my children in the tradition area, because we moved around so much when they were small, and their lives were radically changed when I became a single mother and we eventually blended with another family, but it turns out it was a few simple traditions that I kept in tact that seemed to matter. When my husband and I traveled to Idaho to visit my daughter and her husband this Christmas, they made tortilla soup on Christmas Eve and planned cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, the two things I had always made. I was also excited that they also followed the tradition of present-opening on Christmas Eve. It was a surreal feeling, a manifestation of what she carried with her from her childhood.
Things inevitably evolve and change over the years, and that's OK. I went on a ten-mile run in the morning (which I wouldn't have dreamed of doing, ever, when I was younger) so I could afford the indulgences of the day, and also as a kick in the pants to Father Time, and I plan to do something similar every year until I can't do it any more. There's always room for new traditions, but I'll probably always look forward to those silly cards and enchiladas.