Family traditions; food for thought

Over dinner yesterday, the conversation returned more than once to the topic of family traditions. I was asked, "Do you still do any of those things that you're talking about? Are these traditions you're actually carrying on, or are they merely a part of your memories?" It's never been put to me quite like that before, and I've thought of this more than once since.

  • My maternal grandfather did some beekeeping for a while, (which had been mentioned in my conversation,) but it's nothing that was ever passed down to any of us. To my knowledge none of my family members have an interest. Perhaps a passing fancy of a grandparent shouldn't be lumped as a "family tradition" but this activity ended up in my thoughts, nonetheless.
  • More of the regular patterns, however - also passed along by grandparents - were a consistent presence of my childhood nostalgia. There were fresh vegetables from both sets of grandparents' gardens. Those were eaten either fresh, or frozen or canned for later. I don't garden much, as my living arrangements haven't made for the opportunity for much gardening. But before my life was so semi-nomadic I did try my hand at gardening. I was quite successful with tomatoes and basil and rosemary. My sister had an insane garden a few years ago, with just about any summer vegetable you could think of, but now that Mr. Pie is in the picture, she downgraded to tomatoes, herbs and cucumbers. Which covers all the really important bases, I suppose. Mom and Dad still have a garden, but I think my mom gets bored with trying to fight the critters and sometimes she gives in and lets 'em have their run of the patch of whatever it is they're eating before she can get out there and pick it.
  • And continuing in the theme of food - which says a lot, right there, about our family and our traditions, I learned to cook the more memorable recipes my paternal grandmother taught me to prepare. Everyone in the family knows that at Christmas and Thanksgiving, I'll be the one making the chicken & dumplings, and also the cornbread dressing. I also know how to make "Bigmama's biscuits." And my Mamaw's cabbage rolls and brown gravy. But not her yeast rolls. (She tried, though - it's somethig you really have to practice, I believe, to ensure consistent success.)
  • I haven't shelled peas in a lot of years, but if I were visiting and your mom walked into the room and said she couldn't get on top of all those peas harvested from the garden, she could give me a big honkin' bowl and a bag for the hulls, and I'd sit right there with her and make a significant dent in those peas. At least I'm delusional enough to think I can still pull my weight with garden peas - which I can also eat more than my share of.
  • Granddaddy taught my dad to build things. I'm not afraid to pick up a drill or a saw or a hammer (I own each of these tools, naturally,) and when I have an urge to try and build something, I know my way around the lumber department at more than one of the local DIY/hardware stores.
These are the answers I've come up with so far. Aside from the very present understanding that holidays are a time to be with family - I missed one Thanksgiving in college, and my sister wouldn't speak to me kindly for a while afterward - these are the traditions that have solidly taken hold. I'm thinking about it a lot, today, though. These thoughts make me want to call my Granddaddy, which I haven't done in a while. When I do, you can bet I'll answer him with "yes sir," and "no sir."