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Stories from Home: Traditions Passed On

The following is from a post from January 1, 2020, with some content changed to update the circumstances. Looking back on it now, having gone through the COVID mess, it’s worth pondering how and how many family traditions have changed forever.

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

New Year’s Day usually finds the Parkers doing what we do best: making food and watching TV.

For me, it is making the best darn black-eyed peas and collards I’ve had the pleasure to eat.

On this particular New Year’s Day 2020, our son, Andrew, made a delicious mustard, honey-glazed ham.

The Twilight Zone marathon played on the TV much of the day as we enjoyed some of our favorite episodes.

But the joy of the day for me was the making of oliebollen. It’s essentially a Dutch deep-fried doughnut with raisins. So, to recap – New Year’s Day food for us is traditional Dutch-Southern.

My first memory of this treat was when Debbie’s grandma (Holland native) made it in California, when we visited her before our marriage 38 1/2 years ago. Debbie makes it most New Year’s Days. Our oldest daughter, Joy, has made it for several years now.

On this New Year, Debbie made it for the first time with our youngest daughter, Grace, and Andrew. Deb even has a little ceremonial tossing of the towel over her shoulder, the towel she eventually uses to cover the dough while the yeast rises.

I got to thinking about our family’s traditions and what we’ve done with our kids over the years. There are certain things we’ve always done at Christmas and New Year’s and Thanksgiving, certain foods we have, etc. Christmas stockings are a big deal for us, especially since Debbie, Joy and I have stockings knitted by Deb’s grandma.

I’ve treasured these moments more in the past couple of years, because for my wife and I, those days will become fewer. Andrew and his wife Alexandra are married and have started to install the rites and passages of their own home, as each bring their own upbringings together. Joy and her beau have spent several holidays on their own and with his family. Grace is not far behind.

While there is sadness for me about this, there is much joy about what we’ve placed in our kids’ hearts and beings. That family matters above all else. The food is delicious. Games around the table often are filled with laughter.

The time is precious. But the memories of what we’ve shared among the five of us will stay ingrained for as long as we’re alive and beyond.

Traditions keep us alive. In the making of oliebollen, Debbie’s grandma came to mind immediately. Someday, my kids will remember something about me and Deb in what they share with their families. It is our traditions that connect us.

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