Friday, December 2, 2011

Family Traditions

This is the third in a series of posts written by my brother, Tom, that will be posted throughout December.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

One of my dad’s favorite pastimes was taking us for a ride.  “Come on kids, let’s go for a ride” he would announce with enthusiasm and seven kids would pile into the station wagon.  We watched new neighborhoods being built, office buildings, stadiums, airports and bridges.  These “rides” usually concluded with ice cream “just one dip, you don’t want to ruin your supper”.  Christmas time would take on a whole new dynamic.  Dad would watch the paper for the most elaborate displays and we would take special rides just to discover these kaleidoscopic mega displays. It was a part of our Christmas tradition.

Photo Credit:  Joe Orban
My kids hated going for rides and made sure they were busy on Sunday afternoons, the most likely time for a ride"Sorry Dad, I told Shannon I would come over this afternoon and play” I would hear.  Ice cream was an insufficient motivator so I resorted to tricks to get some spontaneous rides in by taking the l-o-n-g way home from different events. Too late, they were trapped. Christmas was the exception.  Somehow everyone was excited to take a ride and look at the lights.  We developed a tradition of applauding for displays that were the most beautiful.  Our kids would eagerly point out the well-decorated homes and we would applaud in unison as our car passed by.  This practice spread to include even short trips. The tradition continued as our children grew and we became quite discriminating in our taste.

One Christmas season our daughter informed us that her college boy friend would be able to spend a few days with us during the break.  We were excited to meet him as they seemed serious and we knew that to bring a boy home to meet the parents was a real step.  “Just one request” she said as we spoke.  "Let's not do that applause thing -- I don’t want to be embarrassed in front of him."  "Well, what else do we do that might be an embarrassment” I asked sarcastically.  Can we still let our “little dog Annie” on the table after dinner to pick up the crumbs? Can I scurry from the bath to the bedroom in a towel yelling “don’t look”?  Can we sing the full 3 part Jones version of Happy Birthday on your sister's birthday that evening?  Most importantly, can mom discharge the 12 gauge shotgun out the second floor window to frighten the geese?

Well, you can be sure that week we treated her friend to a full course of Jones family idiosyncrasies and played it to the hilt.  It didn’t work though, they got married a few years later in spite of the parents antics; we even let him meet my wife’s side of the family just to be sure they were meant for each other.  I knew we were OK when that weekend I overheard him on the phone with his parents whispering “OK, Mom, but let’s just not do the Walton good night thing when she’s there."

The holidays are a great time to remember family traditions and even create new ones.  Our family tradition will always include celebration of the fulfilled promise from Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Photo Credits:


  1. Another great one, Kathy! I laughed so hard with the boyfriend. He turned out to be a great guy!

  2. Thank you for sharing the gift of your brother. I'm just catching up on this series and am enchanted.

  3. We used to do the Walton thing when the kids were growing up!

  4. Oh, if these stories get any better you will have to offer a box of hankies with each, to wipe away the tears of joy.

  5. As "the daughter" in this story, I have to say, I don't remember any of this. Except that we did applaud at the Christmas lights. And that I strongly disliked Sunday drives.

  6. Melissa,
    Did you read the previous post? I didn't remember destroying "Santa" for my sister, Karen, either.


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